Kobe Bryant can be credited with an assist to Alex Rodriguez.
According to multiple sources, the Yankees third baseman recently followed a recommendation from Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star, and traveled to Germany for an experimental therapy called Orthokine on his bothersome right knee.
The innovative procedure was performed on Rodriguez — with the Yankees’ blessing — within the last month, according to one source. The Yankees first cleared the procedure with the commissioner’s office to avoid the appearance that Rodriguez might be receiving impermissible treatment.
Rodriguez, the source said, would not have had the procedure without the Yankees’ permission. Last season, the team was blindsided by a report that pitcher Bartolo Colon had undergone controversial stem-cell treatment.
Orthokine involves taking blood from the patient’s arm and spinning it in a centrifuge, a machine used in laboratories to spin objects around a fixed axis. The serum is then injected into the affected area — in this case, Rodriguez’s knee.
Bryant underwent the same treatment last summer to try to strengthen his right knee. He also reportedly had the procedure done in October to treat a chronic left ankle ailment.
It remains unclear if the procedure actually works longterm.
Jonathan Glashow, the co-chief of sports medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, said, "A lot of athletes I’ve talked to really think this stuff works, but we really don’t have a lot of scientific knowledge behind it of exactly what’s happening."
Glashow added, "It’s a great way to reduce inflammation and therefore pain, and that’s the essence of it. I think a lot of the athletes who have wear-and-tear on their knees benefit from this. You do it for a while and if it doesn’t stay good you do it again in a few years."
Rodriguez underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in July, but returned to the Yankees’ lineup for the stretch run.
In 68 at-bats following the surgery, he hit .191 with three homers and 10 RBIs. In the Yankees’ AL Division Series loss to the Tigers he it .111 with no homers and three RBIs.
Rodriguez has resumed off-season workouts, according to a source, and is expected to arrive on time for spring training.