Capitals

A-Rod needs hip surgery, will miss season's start

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A-Rod needs hip surgery, will miss season's start

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Alex Rodriguez will start the season in what's become a familiar place: the disabled list.

The New York Yankees said Monday the third baseman will have surgery on his left hip, an injury that could sideline him until the All-Star break and may explain his spectacularly poor performance during the playoffs.

``It's a significant blow,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. ``But we've dealt with significant blows and, hopefully, we'll be able to deal with this one, as well.''

A 14-time All-Star and baseball's priciest player at $275 million, Rodriguez has a torn labrum, bone impingement and a cyst. He will need four to six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen the hip before surgery, and the team anticipates he will be sidelined four to six months after the operation.

This will be Rodriguez's sixth trip to the disabled list in six seasons. A-Rod had right hip surgery on March 9, 2009, and returned that May 8.

``It is a more complicated surgery with a longer recovery time because there is a little bit more that needs to be done,'' Cashman said, citing the bone impingement. ``I don't think it's age related. Butt at the same time, the older you are, the slower you're going to recover regardless. But the bottom line and the message I've been receiving is that this is a solvable issue.''

Rodriguez, who turns 38 in July, complained to manager Joe Girardi of a problem with his right hip the night Raul Ibanez pinch hit for him - and hit a tying ninth-inning home run - against Baltimore during Game 3 of the AL division series in October. He went to New York-Presbyterian Hospital's emergency room and was checked out then.

``Up to this point, there was no complaints of any nature at all from his hip, or anything really,'' Cashman said. ``At that point Joe went to Alex in the dugout and said, `I'm going to pinch hit for you and we're going to pinch hit Ibanez,' and Alex said to Joe at that moment, `OK,' he said, `I've got to talk to you about something. I think my right hip needs to be looked at. I just don't feel like I'm firing on all cylinders.'''

Cashman said the test on the right hip ``was clean'' and the left hip was not examined.

``I can tell you if a patient shows up in the emergency room with a complaint, they're going to focus on where the complaint is, not something else,'' he said.

Rodriguez, owed $114 million by New York over the next five years, remained a shell of his former self on the field. He was benched in three of nine postseason games and pinch hit for in three others. He batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs in the playoffs, including 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers.

A-Rod broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Seattle's Felix Hernandez on July 24. He returned Sept. 3 and hit .195 with two homers and six RBIs over the final month of the regular season.

Cashman said Rodriguez's left hip injury was detected last month when he had an annual physical in Colorado with Dr. Marc Philippon, who operated on the right hip 3 1-2 years ago. Rodriguez got a second opinion from Dr. Bryan Kelly of New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, who will operate on A-Rod next month, and the injury was made public Monday by the New York Post.

Cashman said ``they're not your typical injuries'' but wouldn't speculate whether they are related to steroids use. Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.

``It doesn't matter what I wonder,'' Cashman said.

With Derek Jeter, who turns 39 in June, coming off surgery to repair a broken ankle, the left side of the Yankees' infield could be even more of a defensive problem.

Jeter expects to be ready for opening day. Eric Chavez, who filled in for Rodriguez for parts of the last two seasons, is a free agent and Cashman said there are few options on the market.

Rodriguez had a strained quadriceps in 2008, the hip surgery in 2009, a strained calf in 2010, knee surgery in 2011 and the broken hand this year. While he is fifth on the career list with 647 home runs, he had just 34 the last two seasons.

``When he's healthy - obviously at one point he was spectacular,'' Cashman said. ``One player doesn't make a team, and so we have a full roster of guys plus our farm system behind that that's going to have to fill in. We've done it before.''

NOTES: Toronto claimed C Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees, who claimed him from San Francisco last month.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.