In Baseball, Hip Surgery is Hip Thing
Advanced medicine has made arthroscopic hip surgery an option for some of baseball's biggest names in recent months. Although all have progressed in timely fashion, the results have been mixed.
That's the case even for one of the success stories. Boston Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, who rebounded from November surgery to hit .282 with 10 home runs this season, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday after having fluid drained from his hip and receiving a lubricating injection.
"He wanted to play on Friday," manager Terry Francona told news reporters. "We want him to be able to play the second half."
Moderation will be key for another star slowed by the surgery. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, a career .304 hitter, is batting .232 with 11 homers in 46 games since returning from March surgery; he will take periodic days off.
Only the Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley seems invincible. Batting .302, he has missed only two games and is on pace for career highs with 16 home runs and 51 RBI.
Kansas City Royals third baseman Alex Gordon, who had his procedure April 17, expects to be back shortly. New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado and Phillies starter Brett Myers also had hip surgery this season.
Lowell suggests the recent spate of surgeries has been fueled by improved diagnostic techniques.
"For years, a lot of people were saying their groins were tight," Lowell said. "With technology, we're realizing there were a lot more hip issues."
Bryan T. Kelly, who performed the surgeries on Utley and Lowell, says, "Our ability to image these problems has definitely improved. It's almost too good."
Kelly says deciding whether to have arthroscopic surgery comes down to ability to perform and level of discomfort. Recovery time can range from six weeks to six months, Kelly says.
"All our docs say that at the year point you're going to feel awfully good," Lowell says. "So I'm really looking forward to this offseason."
Lowell says he has only one regret thus far: "I'm just a little disappointed. I want them to name it the 'Mike Lowell surgery' - like Tommy John (elbow surgery) - because I was the first (of this group) to have it."