CINCINNATI, OH -- The Reds are looking at unconventional methods to take care of Ryan Freel's lingering toe issue.
The second toe on Freel's left foot became inflamed, preventing him from running and landing him on the DL retroactive to June 19 two weeks ago. The inflammation was caused by the second toe being longer than the first.
The problem is recurring and had always righted itself with treatment, but this time the malady is taking longer than expected to clear up. “Unless we can fix the source of this problem, it may never heal,” said Reds medical director, Dr. Timothy Kremcheck.
One option is to amputate the toe, or trim it down to the first knuckle. “But we're afraid that removal of all or part of the toe would interfere with [Freel's] ability to run,” said Kremcheck. “And it would be pretty gross.”
Kremcheck explained that the risk could be mitigated by replacing the toe with a prosthetic, a “bionic toe” in the same vein as the bionic arm used by Brandon Claussen earlier this season. “We could give it features that a regular toe just doesn't have,” said Kremcheck, “like extra strength and resiliency, or AM/FM radio.”
The most inventive procedure would be to augment Freel's current big toe with plastic surgery to bring it into proper proportion with the second toe and relieve some of the pressure causing the inflammation. This procedure is not commonly seen in the sports world but has been used for years for actors, models, and dancers afflicted with Godzilla Toe. A notable side benefit of plastic surgery is that it would give Freel beautiful feet should he ever decide to pursue a career modeling sandals.
Presented with the options, Freel was less than enthusiastic. “I was hoping I could just get some shoe inserts or something,” he said.