The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

MLB News: Mets’ Juan Lagares to Undergo Plantar Plate Surgery After Season-Ending Injury

Posted by on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

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What seemed like a stubbed toe turned out to be so much more for Mets’ Centerfielder Juan Lagares. The team’s best outfielder will be undergoing plantar plate surgery, which likely puts him out the entire season. It’s a painful blow for New York fans, as Yoenis Cespedes is also on the disabled list, leaving the team to rely on the last three outfielders available: Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo. Likely we’ll see Wilmer Flores stepping in, with Jose Reyes called out as needed.

plantar plate surgery
A ruptured plantar plate may mean toe surgery, say NYC podiatrists. [Image Source: Unsplash user Jose Morales]

What Happened to Juan Lagares?

The misery began when Juan Lagares ran into the outfield wall in the disheartening 12-1 rousting by the Toronto Blue Jays on May 16th. Two days later, the team announced that Lagares had sustained a complete tear of the plantar plate in his left foot. This thick ligament attaches the toes to the ball of the foot. In this case, the rupture was at the site of the big toe. An injury like this would likely cause the toes to claw and splay abnormally, in addition to registering a great deal of swelling, bruising, and pain. It takes about a month for the worst acute symptoms to resolve after surgery. From there, patients can expect to be feeling fully recovered within three to four months.

Plantar Plate Tears

Acute trauma like Juan Lagares suffered is actually the least common cause of plantar plate tears. More commonly, patients have some type of deformity present—a hypermobile first ray, hallux valgus deformity (bunion or hammer toe), an elongated second metatarsal, a short first metatarsal, or equinus deformity. Patients complain of pain and often tingling (from inflammation of the capsular structures, which places pressure on the digital nerve.)

Conservatively, we can try strapping the toes back into place, modifying the shoes, and fitting you with a custom orthotic. The sooner this type of injury is addressed, the more likely these simple measures are to be successful. Physical therapy and oral steroids can reduce pain if necessary. We do not recommend injection therapy, as this can weaken the collagen needed for repair. If the plantar plate has torn, surgery is often the go-to for correcting the underlying deformity. In the worst cases where chronic tearing has occurred, a tendon transfer procedure may be warranted to add stability to the damaged, weakened region in the foot.

Can Baseball Players Recover from Plantar Plate Surgery?

We reported a similar story back in January 2016, where Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols underwent plantar plate tear surgery. Despite his injury, Pujols wrapped up the last game of the season with his 40th home run—the seventh season he accomplished such a feat, which is second only to A-Rod (who hit 40 per season eight times). Last June, he became the fourth-youngest player in MLB history to reach 600 home runs—in good company with Babe Ruth, A-Rod, and Hank Aaron. This year, he became the 32nd player in history to join the 3,000 Hits Club. As you can see, a dynamic return is possible after plantar plate recovery.

Baseball Injury Treatment in New York City

NYC sports doctors at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine have more than 40 years of experience in treating baseball injuries pertaining to the foot and ankle. We have doctors of podiatric medicine, board-certified foot and ankle surgeons, and sports medicine doctors on staff, specializing in everything from diagnosis to conservative care, therapeutic intervention, surgery, and rehabilitation. In addition to plantar plate tears, we also treat a lot of fractures, bone bruises, contusions, posterior tibial tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and neuromas. We’ve worked with young team sports players, as well as professional athletes. Contact us for the best possible care.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.