ST. LOUIS – When Chris Johnson stumbled over first base while racing to beat out an infield hit Saturday night, the Braves third baseman got more than good-natured razzing from teammates. He got turf toe.
Johnson was scratched from the lineup Sunday with a sprained left big toe. That left the already injury-depleted Braves with just three Opening Day starters in the lineup for the series finale against the Cardinals. Paul Janish replaced Johnson.
“It happened when I tripped over first base,” Johnson said. “I jammed it and bent it back. But then I kept playing through the game. I took my shoe off last night and it swelled up after the game. I came in today and it was pretty swollen.”
He said he hoped to be available to pinch-hit Sunday after getting treatment in the morning, and be back in the lineup Tuesday against Cleveland after the Braves’ day off Monday.
“It’s not broken,” said Johnson, who was examined by a Cardinals team doctor after Saturday’s game. “They said it’s turf toe. It’s just one of those things where I jammed my toe, and we’re trying to get the swelling out.”
As soon as it happened, he knew he’d done something to his toe.
“Yeah, I felt it. I knew it was going to be an issue,” he said. “I just kept my shoe on because I didn’t want the blood to go down in there. It’s not a big deal, hopefully just a one-day thing.”
Johnson’s average has slipped 15 points in three weeks, from a National League-leading .346 to .331, second to St. Louis’ Yadier Molina (.336) before Sunday. However, he’s driven in more runs since moving to the middle of the lineup, going 17-for-59 (.288) with two doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs in his past 15 games.
The incident Saturday occurred when Johnson lunged on his final step and hit the base with the front of his foot, sending him tumbling on his hands and chest beyond the base. He was thankful not to have injured an ankle or knee.
“Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t hurt (Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig), too,” he said. “Because I kind of stepped on the back of his heel. It was just kind of an un-athletic looking play.”
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