Upton sprained his left big toe in the first inning of Sunday’s Freeway Series exhibition game against the Dodgers when he ran into the left-field wall at Angel Stadium. He was pulled out of the game within minutes and later diagnosed with a turf toe injury.
The early prognosis called for about three weeks of recovery. Upon further examination, doctors determined that Upton will need eight to 12 weeks of recovery before he’s ready to play in a major league game. He’ll wear a boot for the next four weeks, general manager Billy Eppler said, and then slowly ramp up baseball activities.
“Can we withstand it? We have to,” Ausmus said before Friday’s game against the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum. “We have no choice.”
Just how the Angels come back from an injury to a middle-of-the-order hitter who belted 30 home runs last season is the question.
They still, of course, have Mike Trout, who paced the Angels with 39 home runs, and left-handed slugger Justin Bour (20 homers in 2018), who was acquired during the offseason. They expect Shohei Ohtani to rejoin their lineup in early May, if not sooner, which would provide a boost. But for at least the first month of the season, the Angels, who ranked seventh in baseball with 214 home runs last season, will be sapped of a good chunk of their power.
The Angels’ outfield depth has been tested early this season. Rookie Michael Hermosillo, who entered spring training figuring to compete for a reserve outfield spot, didn’t play this spring after suffering a setback during his recovery from offseason hernia surgery. Upton didn’t play until the final week of the Cactus League schedule because of right knee tendinitis. Sometime late in spring, nonroster outfielder Jarrett Parker hurt his oblique and also found himself on the sidelines.
The Angels wound up claiming Brian Goodwin, who was in the starting lineup at left field Friday, from the Kansas City Royals for backup. For now, Goodwin, a left-handed hitter, will share time with Peter Bourjos in left field and play at other outfield positions as needed.
All the Angels can do is hope they find a way to work around this latest batch of bad news, which comes a day after learning that starting pitcher Andrew Heaney will undergo further evaluation on his inflamed left elbow.