As if the Texas Rangers’ three-day trip to Cincinnati hadn’t been rough enough already, now third baseman Josh Jung — one of the primary catalysts behind the team’s early push to the top of the AL West — has exited Wednesday’s matinee against the Reds:
Ezequiel Duran is pinch hitting for Josh Jung. Jung was hit my a pitch on his hand in the second inning, staying in to field, but then apparently was removed pic.twitter.com/5h4NX8UpG5— kennedi landry (@kennlandry) April 26, 2023
It’s encouraging that Jung was able to initially remain in the game and even play the field for half an inning, and hopefully this is just a precaution to get X-rays started on Jung’s hand and make sure there’s nothing structurally wrong. Ezequiel Duran, who’s been swinging a hot bat lately, replaced Jung at the hot corner.
Jung has been ticketed as the Rangers’ third baseman of the future from pretty much the moment the team took him in the top 10 of the 2019 MLB Draft after a stellar career at Texas Tech. It seemed like that future had arrived in 2022, after two years in which Jung had obliterated the Minor Leagues and turned himself into a consensus top-25 prospect in the game. But a spring shoulder injury short-circuited that plan, and Jung appeared in just 22 games at the tail end of last season.
Jung entered this year fully healthy, and so far he’s lived up to just about all of the hype, entering play on Wednesday with a .281/.326/.494 slash line, five homers and 16 RBI in just 22 games. Jung’s combination of feel for hitting — he never posted an average below .273 at any level of the Minors — and prodigious power makes him a rare commodity, and Texas would be hard-pressed to replace his production if he’s forced to sit out for any extended period of time. (Especially while Corey Seager remains out with his hamstring strain.)