Kevin Long saw the lack of power down the stretch from Alex Rodriguez and was well aware something wasn't right with the third baseman.
"I knew it in August," the Yankees hitting coach said by phone Saturday. "I didn't know exactly what it was, but his lower half was not letting him do the things he's normally able to do."
Long also knew there were no easy fixes.
"At that point of the season, there's not much you can do other than keep grinding," Long said. "So I wasn't surprised when I heard about the hip injury. His explosion was gone."
The Yankees are hoping that explosion returns after Rodriguez undergoes a procedure on his left hip Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery to repair a torn labrum, bone impingement and cyst.
It's a similar procedure to the one he had on his right hip in 2009, and Long is looking for the same result when Rodriguez gets back, likely in July. That season, he had 30 homers and 100 RBIs in 124 games and led the Bombers to the World Series crown with a dominant October.
"I hope he'll be able to overcome the deficiencies that were holding him back and gain flexibility in his hips and glutes," Long said. "He has to go through the healing process, but last time he got through it pretty quick. I'm glad he's getting it done. The last time we were both very concerned about how he would come back and he is getting older, but the fact that he's already done this once will ease both of our minds."
Few people saw how affected Rodriguez was by his hip ailment late in the season more than Long, especially during Rodriguez's disastrous postseason when he was pinch-hit for and eventually benched.
"It's no fun competing when you're broken down," Long said. "One of the worst times in my baseball life was watching him go through that last year. We couldn't do anything about it."
The option of ending Rodriguez's season early was not discussed, but Long now concedes it might have been beneficial.
"Knowing now that it didn't work out, maybe it would have been better to shut him down," Long said. "But we never would have done that."
Long already has begun working with Rodriguez's temporary replacement at third, visiting Kevin Youkilis in San Jose, Calif., last week.
Yankees hitting coach: A-Rod was in pain in August
New York Post | Jan 14