When Alex Rodriguez's hip surgery was announced, there were those who thought the Yankees might actually benefit from his absence. Psychologically that may be true, but the lack of his bat is becoming a palpable problem for the team on the field.
Mark Teixeira got a cortisone shot for his ailing wrist after missing three games, and the switch-hitter will be limited to batting lefthanded for a few days. Xavier Nady is out, perhaps for the season, which means the Yankees have one less hitter to slot into the lineup when need be.
That looms large with the news that Hideki Matsui is going to be limited to pinch hitting duty because of fluid buildup in his surgically repaired knee. That means Melky Cabrera or Jose Molina will be in the lineup every day, and teaming them with Cody Ransom and Brett Gardner severely limits the thunder in the Yankee lineup.
Matsui has not looked comfortable swinging a bat thus far, hopefully getting the fluid drained will help alleviate that problem, but it is getting more difficult to picture him making it through a 162-game season without further difficulty.
All of that adds up to an acute need for Rodriguez back in the lineup. The news is better on that front, as A-Rod took 49 swings during a batting practice session on Thursday. There still isn't any official word that he'll be back before May 15th, but he's clearly making good progress. With Ransom barely providing replacement level offense, and the rest of the lineup ailing it wouldn't be surprising to see him beat that projection by a fair margin.