Culprit of Mench's painful April: Wrong shoe size

SEATTLE -- Kevin Mench entered Thursday night's game against the Seattle Mariners with zero RBI in his first 10 games.


Perhaps because his shoes were too small.

The Texas Rangers right fielder has missed five games this season because of a sprain in the second toe of his right foot. He's had two cortisone injections into the toe, the latter coming last Saturday. Rangers team podiatrist Dr. John Crates sent Mench to see a Dallas-area orthotics specialist.

The specialist determined the sprain was caused by Mench's shoes being a half-size too small.

"He said he'd never seen turf toe in the second toe," Mench said before batting practice Thursday. "He said, 'Your shoes are a half-size too small.'"

The specialist dipped Mench's feet in blue ink and then had him imprint them onto paper. The result: Mench should have been wearing size 12½ instead of 12.

"Man, I'd been wearing 12s since I was 15 years old," Mench said. "That's the last time I had my feet measured -- you know, when I went to the shoe store with my parents.

"I guess feet can grow after that," he said.

So Mench gave away all of his size 12s -- street shoes and spikes alike. Now he said he has no discomfort while walking or running. He said only time he feels pain is when he stretches his foot, as if to scratch it.

And he happily added he will wear orthotics the rest of the season.

He -- and his size 12½s -- were in the starting lineup Thursday for only the third time in eight games.

"Hopefully, now he'll be ready for the rest of the year," Texas manager Buck Showalter said.

He established career highs in nearly every offensive category in 2005. Then this spring training, he batted .417 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in 20 games.