"It wasn't easy," said Hairston. "I worked really hard to get back. But for the first three months, I didn't know if I'd be able to play at this level now."
Hairston, 36, underwent hip labrum surgery in Vail, Colo. by Dr. Marc Philippon. His left leg was placed in traction to separate the leg from the hip enough to insert arthroscopic tools in the joint. Torn labrum was repaired and an irregularity in the head or neck of the femur that caused an impingement was shaved to allow for smooth rotation in the joint. When the ball and socket don't fit properly, friction tears the labrum.
The rehab required one month on crutches and two months hooked up for six hours a day (while lying down) to a continuous passive motion device that automatically flexes the leg to reduce pain and inflammation and protect the healing tissue.
Alex Rodriguez has had similar operations on both hips. Hairston spoke to Rodriguez and Brian Roberts, another surgical patient, before having the operation.
"The first month was painful lying in bed," said Hairston. "I just pictured myself playing again. It helped realize a goal, helped to fight through it."
Hairston said his hip began bothering him shortly before he strained a hamstring muscle in May. He said the injury originally presented itself as tightness in the groin area. That type of referred pain is common because of sensitive nerves in the hip.
Hairston was hitting .315 when he pulled the hamstring. In his third game back at the end of May, he went 5-for-5. But by mid-June, the hip worsened. In mid-August while in Miami, Hairston felt severe pain diving for a ground ball and decided it was time to say something.
Hairston started Saturday in left field, in place of another rehab patient, Carl Crawford. Manager Don Mattingly said he intends to use Hairston on the corners in both the outfield and infield this year.