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Podiatry in Sports: Yankees reliever Bryan Mitchell dealing with turf toe

New York Yankees relief pitcher Bryan Mitchell could miss up to three months after suffering a Grade 3 turf toe and fractured sesamoid bone, YES Network’s Jack Curry reports.

“Honestly I don’t even think it’s really sunk in yet,” Mitchell told of the injury. “It’s tough right now. Nothing I want to hear, especially at this point in the game.”

Mitchell injured his foot while fielding a ground ball hit to the right side of the infield against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista. According to Mitchell, the initial pain of the injury was felt when he planted his left foot to cover first base on the play.

“I felt something, but I definitely didn’t think it was this severe, given that I could still get over to the base and all that,” he said. “Just a bump in the road. We’ll get past it hopefully.”

Turf toe typically occurs when the foot sticks to a hard surface, resulting in a jamming of the big toe joint. Although this injury is most commonly reported in football and soccer players, it is not uncommon to see the injury occur in other sports such as baseball.

Although most turf toe injuries occur on artificial turf (hence the name), the reality this hyperextension injury can occur anytime the toe hits a hard, unyielding surface that forces the toe beyond its normal range of motion – in Mitchell’s case, a base.

At Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, has seen numerous turf toe-related injuries throughout his career in medicine and has insight into Mitchell’s situation based on the information currently available.

According to Dr. Goldbaum, the effects of turf toe can range from a mild injury with only minor ligament damage to a chronic injury involving inflammation of the joint capsule and progressive cartilage formation and calcification of the head of the first metatarsal.

Turf toe injuries are graded on a scale of 1–3 based on their severity:

  • Grade 1: The plantar complex has been stretched causing tenderness and slight swelling.
  • Grade 2: The plantar complex has partially torn, causing tenderness, moderate swelling, and bruising. Any attempts to move the toe should be fairly painful.
  • Grade 3: The plantar complex has completely torn, leading to severe tenderness, swelling, and bruising. At this point, any movement of the affected toe will be very painful.

“Since it was reported that Mitchell sustained a Grade 3 turf toe, he will likely need to have his plantar plate surgically repositioned,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “When the plantar plate ruptures and moves, it has to be brought back into position by surgery in order to make sure he gets the proper range of motion back in his toe. It’ll likely take about six weeks to recover from that surgery before any rehab can begin.”

As for his other injury, Dr. Goldbaum believes that Mitchell’s fractured sesamoid boned should heal without surgery. The sesamoids are two pea-shaped bones located in the ball of the foot, beneath the big toe joint. These bones help the big toe move normally and provide leverage when the big toe “pushes off” during walking and running.

For this reason, Mitchell will have to remain fairly immobile in the coming weeks in order for his injuries to heal.

“He had a lot of problems happen in a little area,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “The sesamoid fracture will also take six weeks to heal, but that is something that won’t be healed surgically and just needs time. In order for this happen, his toe must remain immobile and likely casted to make sure that he doesn’t aggravate the injury and slow down the healing process.”

Mitchell, 24, had posted a 0.57 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched during Spring Training before his injury.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100,


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