Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Justin Upton suffered a turf toe injury when he jammed his great toe against the outfield fence during a spring training game. He is in a walking boot and will begin the season on the injured list. His x-rays were negative and the team is awaiting MRI results.
A turf toe is an injury to the great toe plantar plate caused by a hyperextension injury. A grade 1 injury is a sprain, a grade 2 injury is a partial tear and a grade 3 injury is a complete tear. A player with a grade 1 injury can return to play as tolerated based on symptoms. For grade 2 injuries, a walking boot is required with return to play in 2-3 weeks and taping of the toe when returning to sport. For grade 3 injuries, immobilization in a boot or cast is required for 4 to 6 weeks and return to play is expected between 10 and 16 weeks. For some grade 3 injuries, surgery is required. When x-rays show proximal migration of the sesamoidbones, surgery is typically required. The fact that Upton’s x-rays were negative is reassuring.
Since the team expects him to miss 8 to 12 weeks, this is likely a grade 3 injury and MRI results will shed more light on his treatment and expected return to play. A realistic return to play after this injury is approximately 3 months (and longer if surgery is necessary).
Peter Bourjos is expected to fill in for Upton while he is on the IL.