Despite the fact that the Yankees clinched the AL East crown with a definitive sweep over their rival Red Sox and the fact that there are heated discussions about whether he might deserve the American League MVP, Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez has not had an easy go of things this season.
In fact, in spite of his past All-Star-level successes, Rodriguez wasn't sure he'd even see playing time in 2009.
"Many nights I sat on the bed in Colorado thinking I wouldn't play at all in '09," Rodriguez told Yahoo Sports, regarding his visits to surgeon Dr. Marc Philippon, who performed arthroscopic surgery on the slugger's right hip in the spring.
The road to recovery was long and complicated by the added media scrutiny after he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs.
"It was a very, very tough spring," Rodriguez conceded.
But the third baseman took solace on the diamond, away from the media and reporters asking him about everything from his divorce, to the publication of Selena Roberts' tell-all book A-Rod, to rumors surrounding his current girlfriend, actress Kate Hudson. On the field, at least, Rodriguez did everything right. In 122 games this season, Rodriguez has hit 28 home runs with 93 RBIs.
Rodriguez's toughest challenge may be ahead of him. Long derided as wilting in the playoffs, he must prove that, this year, he is up to the challenge. As the Yankees prepare to square off against either the Detroit Tigers or Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series, Rodriguez must perform the way he has all season, and not allow the distractions to affect his production.