Just how bad is Aaron Judge’s toe injury? Deion Sanders may know

Aaron Judge has been absent from the New York Yankees’ lineup since suffering a toe injury on June 3, and it could be a while until he can return to the lineup. On June 25, Judge told reporters he had a torn ligament in his right big toe stemming from running into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium. He stated surgery is a possibility for the Yankee’s captain. The Yankees are 13-16 since losing Judge for a second time this season.

Could there be a precedent for Aaron Judge’s toe injury that is keeping him out of the New York Yankees lineup?

In is his first trip to the IL this season, he missed 10 games earlier this season with a right hip strain sustained trying to steal third base on his 31st birthday at Minnesota’s Target Field on April 26. When their captain is in the lineup, the Yankees are 30-19. He is desperately needed at 161st in the Bronx, so when can he be realistically expected back?

Dr. Spencer Stein, a sports orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Health, thinks it may be more serious. “My concern is that it’s turf toe type injury,” Stein said, “which is an injury on the bottom of the foot, which certainly takes time. So they’re on top of it, which is a good sign, but they just have to keep an eye on it.”

A turf toe type of injury sounds better than a ligament tear, but Deion Sanders may disagree. Sanders, a former two-sport All-Star, experienced a turf toe injury on the big toe of his left foot in 1998. Since then, Sanders said that he hasn’t been able to feel the toe, and it forced him into retirement. After several surgeries post-career, he experienced blood clotting issues. Sanders’s big left toe eventually had to be amputated in 2021.

On June 13, Sanders offered a prime view into what’s been afoot with his left foot. An episode of “Thee Pregame Show” on YouTube, the 55-year-old University of Colorado coach went into detail about the toe injury, the circulation issues preventing it from healing and the possibility of losing his entire left foot.

Turf toe is an injury of any soft tissue structure in the plantar complex, such as the plantar plate or a collateral ligament. These injuries can vary in severity — from stretching the soft tissue to partial tearing. Judge’s injury is a tear in the collateral ligament.

“It doesn’t feel great,” Judge said at Yankee Stadium before Tuesday’s win of walking and hitting off a tee. “I don’t think it will ever feel normal. I can move around pretty well, but any injury, [it can bother you for] a year or two or three years. You never know what it’s gonna feel like.”

Judge’s situation sounds a lot worse than they are letting on. With his size and frame, a lot of weight is put on that toe, especially when he swings. It’s doubtful this injury will lead to a Deion Sanders-like amputation, but it’s quite possible Aaron Judge may never be the same slugger we have come to know.