The New York Yankees are no stranger to Injuries You’ve Never Heard Of or nagging issues that cost a player far more time than anybody could’ve ever imagined. Is it bad luck? Is it a bad approach from a strength and conditioning standpoint? Is it a lack of decisiveness?
We’ll never know. But the problems have persisted for a long, long time now, with the latest victim being DJ LeMahieu. Since signing his six-year, $90 million contract, the veteran infielder has posted two average campaigns: one that was cut short due to sports hernia surgery and the other that was abbreviated because of a lingering foot/toe injury.
Once again, the Yankees have found themselves embroiled in what seems to be an Impossible Injury Situation. LeMahieu’s foot injury wasn’t divulged to the public until around mid-August … and, at that point, we learned it had been bothering him since mid-July, and that he received a cortisone injection at the All-Star break.
At one point, LeMahieu was a top-10 all-around hitter in MLB. Then his foot injury took hold and he regressed horribly. On top of that, he played just eight games from Sept. 1 until the end of the season and was left off the ALDS and ALCS rosters because manager Aaron Boone didn’t deem him able to perform.
Now, the team (and fans) are wondering why there’s still a holdup with LeMahieu’s injury, which we discussed recently. But we’ve since gotten an update from Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.
DJ LeMahieu’s injury is once again putting the Yankees in an impossible situation
Here’s what Kirschner gathered (subscription required) after interviewing Dr. Deepak Chona, founder of SportsMedAnalytics and a Harvard- and Stanford-trained sports surgeon:
"“Chona said sesamoid surgeries have over a 90 percent success rate for athletes returning to sports and getting back to pre-injury production. The procedure can be tricky for surgeons though because there are nerves near the bone and it can be extremely painful if those nerves are impacted. Chona said another aspect that could make surgery a challenge is how big the break is; a bigger break will affect how he bears weight on his foot moving forward. But the benefit of cutting out the broken portion of the bone is it would no longer have to be monitored and there would be no additional worry if the bone will heal on its own.“The reason LeMahieu hasn’t opted for surgery to accelerate the healing process is that it’s not an injury that automatically requires a person to go under the knife. It’s entirely possible to treat this injury with adequate rest, but it undoubtedly is cutting into his offseason training regimen.”"
Kirschner noted that Chona hadn’t seen LeMahieu’s X-rays or MRIs, so there’s obviously that disconnect in the event LeMahieu is dealing with a unique situation, but it’s puzzling that the Yankees and LeMahieu could be waiting until January to make a decision on whether or not to undergo surgery when the success rate is 90%.
Additionally, the maximum recovery rate could extend up to five months, so each week that’s wasted is likely a week that’s lost for the 2023 season. Heading into his age-34 season, it’s not outlandish to assume LeMahieu might be looking at a longer recovery.
Though the specifics of LeMahieu’s condition aren’t known (and that this is a rare, complicated diagnosis), the fact that he was hampered for over three months more than likely suggests surgery might be the best option. What’re the options, based on what we know? Rest from end of the regular season until January, or get surgery as soon as possible to begin an official recovery process? LeMahieu could end up off his feet and not training through December, only to learn he needs surgery, which would make for an even longer layoff.
Not sure what’s going on here, but it’s beyond frustrating and all-too-common for this era of Yankees baseball.