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01/28/10 6:31 PM EST

A-Rod: Surgery was 'a risk worth taking'

Third baseman discusses fears about career with YES

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez feared that his career may have been over when he was facing surgery, the Yankees third baseman told the YES Network for an interview to be aired on Thursday.

Rodriguez underwent arthroscopic surgery in March 2009 to repair the labrum of his right hip, a procedure that cost him 28 games before he returned and helped the Yankees win the World Series. A-Rod said that the entire year changed him as a person.

"I think I grew up a lot, both on and off the field," Rodriguez told the YES Network's Kimberly Jones for the Yankees Hot Stove show. "Staring at retirement right in the face, kind of like Bo Jackson -- that's the first thing I thought of.

"... It was a commitment that I wanted to do for the team, and it was very scary. I knew I was putting the rest of my career at risk, but I felt that with the team at hand, it was a risk worth taking."

At the time, it was believed that Rodriguez would require a second surgery after the season to complete what was termed an "intermediate" procedure. But Rodriguez was cleared by Dr. Marc Philippon last month in Colorado, and he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

"Overall, it was an adventurous year, but I'm glad that's behind me now and we get a chance to continue to build on the positives," Rodriguez said.

Taking advantage of reduced expectations because of the surgery, Rodriguez rejoined the Yankees in May and batted .286 with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in 124 regular-season games, including belting two homers and driving in seven runs on the season's final day to round his numbers.

In the postseason, Rodriguez silenced many of the voices who claimed that he did not come through in clutch situations. He hit a combined .437 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series before logging five hits -- including a home run -- and six RBIs in 20 World Series at-bats.

That gave Rodriguez the elusive World Series championship that many thought was inevitable when he was traded to the Yankees before the 2004 season, a partnership that instead was marked by great amounts of heartache and disappointment.

"It was good because I was so tired of hearing that," Rodriguez said. "I mean, it was exhausting, to be honest with you. It was so frustrating to go in every postseason with all the expectations and ambitions to do well, and three, four games [later] and we were right back in Miami and to our [respective] homes. It was frustrating, painful.

"For me, I was just so tired of the whole 'unclutch' thing. It was just very annoying, but to come over and be part of a championship team and get some of the biggest hits of my career and to deliver for my teammates when they needed me, that certainly feels really good and I'm very relieved."

Heading into his seventh season with the Yankees, Rodriguez has certainly had plenty of ups and downs during his time in New York, but he said in the interview that it has all been worth it.

"I've made plenty of mistakes in the past and stood up to them," Rodriguez said. "I think I've learned from them and I think I've grown a lot. It just makes me appreciate being a part of a great team, a great organization.

"Having my teammates and coaches and the organization always standing by me is something that I'm very grateful for, and I look forward to leading this team to more championships, because I think we have a team that can do that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.