Alex Rodriguez has an extra reason to celebrate the holiday season. The New York Yankees third baseman learned this week that his surgically repaired right hip is holding up fine. Rodriguez had surgery in March to repair torn cartilage and missed the first month of the season.

At the time, surgeon Marc Philippon thought Rodriguez would need a more extensive procedure in the off-season.

But Philippon recently examined Rodriguez, and the Yankees said an MRI exam showed that the three-time MVP had properly healed.

Rodriguez and CC Sabathia joined new centerfielder Curtis Granderson in Yankee Stadium's Legends Suite club to welcome him to New York yesterday.

All three players headed to the stadium's loading dock, helping fans who dropped off canned goods and other items for the team's annual food drive.

The Yankees acquired Granderson last week from Detroit in a three-team trade that included Arizona. He was a first-time all-star last summer, hitting 30 home runs and stealing 20 bases.

Mets. New York agreed with Japanese reliever Ryota Igarashi on a $3 million, two-year contract. The 30-year-old righthander will serve as a setup man to Francisco Rodriguez.

Noteworthy. The Los Angeles Dodgers reached a preliminary agreement with free-agent second baseman Jamey Carroll on a $3.85 million, two-year contract. Carroll played the last two seasons in Cleveland. . . . Third baseman Garrett Atkins and reliever Mike Gonzalez reached preliminary agreements with the Baltimore Orioles.