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Baseball
Albert Chen
May 08, 2006
Fabulous at 40
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May 08, 2006

Baseball

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RANGERS' KEVIN MENCH

Foot Fault Corrected

After sitting out five of Texas's first 15 games with a sprained toe in his right foot, rightfielder Kevin Mench visited an orthotics specialist in the Dallas area who found the problem: Mench's size 12 cleats were too small. "The last time I had my feet measured was when I was about 15," says the affable 28-year-old from Wilmington, Del. "I didn't know feet could still grow like that."

It was on April 20, near the end of a West Coast trip, that Mench switched to a size 12 1/2, and when the Rangers returned home the next day, Mench--no longer feeling pain in his toe--hit his first homer of the season to begin a historic binge. Last Friday night in Cleveland, after his eighth-inning blast cleared the leftfield wall by inches, Mench became the first righthanded hitter in major league history to go deep in seven consecutive games. His quest for the overall record ( Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Young homered in eight straight) fell short on Saturday, when he singled, struck out twice and hit a sacrifice fly in four plate appearances. "I had fun," says Mench, who hit two grand slams and drove in 19 runs during the streak. (He had no RBIs through his first 43 at bats.)

This winter the Rangers' front office fielded several trade inquires for Mench but opted to keep him because they believed he was poised for a big year. "He's a guy that is capable of carrying his team with his bat," says first baseman Mark Teixeira. "He gets hidden in our lineup." Not anymore.

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