CLEVELAND -- Matt LaPorta limped his way through the final weeks of the 2009 season because of a lingering left hip issue. And hyperextending his left big toe while running into the wall at Fenway Park on the last day of the season didn't exactly help his health. LaPorta, slated to be a regular in the Indians' lineup at first base and/or the corner outfield positions next season, had two surgical procedures performed in Vail, Colo., on Tuesday to address both matters. As a result, LaPorta, who will need four to six months to recover from the surgeries, will likely be behind in Spring Training camp and perhaps at the start of the 2010 regular season. A key acquisition in the 2008 trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers, LaPorta had a left arthroscopic hip surgery performed by Dr. Marc Philippon, and he also had his left big toe joint stabilized with sutures by Dr. Thomas Clanton.
"There is a real possibility that Matt will be behind at the start of Spring Training and potentially the start of the year," head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "But he shoudn't miss a great amount of time, if he misses any at all." Soloff said the big toe injury, which is commonly referred to as "turf toe," was the more serious of the two. LaPorta was chasing down a home run ball when his foot slammed into the wall, causing the injury and ending his season a few innings earlier than expected. "The great toe is the last body part to contact the ground with running activities," Soloff said. "That being said, the success rate of surgery with the effective rehab is higher when the injury is addressed acutely. So, in Matt's case, it was. It was handled approximately eight days after the injury occurred." LaPorta had been dealing with the hip injury for weeks. Soloff said the injury was the result of LaPorta's transition from left field to first base at Triple-A Columbus. And when LaPorta played first base more frequently in the big leagues toward season's end, the hip began to give him even more trouble. "As part of the exit physical, we performed an MRI, as well as a clinical examination on the left hip," Soloff said. "It became apparent he would require surgical intervention to have that hip addressed in the offseason." LaPorta will remain in Vail for a week before spending most of his offseason rehabbing in Goodyear, Ariz. Soloff said he might begin baseball activities as part of his rehab in January. The Indians project the 24-year-old LaPorta to become a fixture in the middle of their order. The 2009 season was just his second full professional season, and he split it between Triple-A Columbus, where he hit .299 with a .917 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) in 93 games, and the big leagues, where he made his debut and batted .254 with a .750 OPS in 52 games. With the Tribe, LaPorta made 29 starts in left field, 10 in right and 10 at first base, which is believed to be his future home. He batted .273 with 12 doubles, six homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games from Aug. 19 to the end of the season. He missed several games in September because of the hip inflammation. If LaPorta's start to the season is delayed, that could potentially be good news for Andy Marte, who is out of Minor League options and will be looking to latch on with the big league club in some capacity. LaPorta became the third member of the Tribe to have surgery at season's end. Last week, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, while reliever Chris Perez had surgery to remove a loose bone and a cyst in his left ankle. Center fielder Grady Sizemore had season-ending surgeries on his left elbow and left lower abdominal wall in September.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.