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Tuesday newsletter time: Another Josh Jung injury has Rangers scrambling at third

(AP photo/Brynn Anderson)

 

Injuries are nothing new to the Rangers, who experienced a bevy of them last season and have started this season with five key pitchers on the injured list.

Injuries are also nothing new to Josh Jung, who has experienced a bevy of them since 2021.

He has another to add to his files, this time a broken right wrist after he was struck by a pitch Monday night in the ninth inning of a 9-3 victory that was built largely on his bat. He connected for a three-run homer in the first inning and collected an RBI single in the sixth before Phil Maton dotted him.

The ball hit Jung’s back wrist as he checked his swing in an attempt get out of the way.

Maton, the former Astros reliever, had hit the previous two batters, so it’s not like he was saving up to get Jung after hitting Evan Carter and Adolis Garcia. It wasn’t intentional, and hopefully retaliation isn’t coming from a Rangers pitcher.

A player is coming from Triple A Round Rock to take Jung’s spot on the roster.

The three most likely candidates are Justin Foscue, Jonathan Ornelas and Davis Wendzel. Foscue and Ornelas are on the 40-man roster, Foscue and Wendzel are the better offensive players, and Wendzel and Ornelas are the better defensive third basemen.

Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith will see playing time at third. Duran wasn’t very good there last season when filling in for Jung after he broke his thumb. Duran, though, took reps there in spring training and likely would be a better option than he was late last season.

Duran at third would open the need for a right-handed bat to platoon at first base with Jared Walsh. Foscue, who played a lot of first base in spring training, would be the logical choice.

If the Rangers opt for defense at third, Wendzel might finally get his chance. He shared Big 12 Player of the Year honors with Jung in 2019 and had his first healthy professional season in 2023, when he hit 30 homers for Round Rock. He had nice spring, too.

As for Jung, the Rangers didn’t have immediate word on how long he will be out. It’s not a season-ending injury, but it’s not something that is going to heal in 15 days. The guess here is two months. Surgery might speed up the healing process if it was a clean fracture and not a non-displaced fracture.

Elvis Andrus missed nearly two months in 2018 because of a fracture just below his right elbow. He did not need surgery and missed nine weeks. Then-Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner returned a tad sooner in 2018 after a pitch broke his wrist in spring training. He avoided surgery and returned in just under two months.

Jung’s broken thumb last season and his broken wrist Monday are freakish injuries. The torn labrum in 2022 was wear and tear, while the 2021 stress fracture in his left foot was more freakish.

He seems to be more unlucky than injury-prone, but there’s no denying that has missed a lot of time in his career.

The century club

Garcia connected for a home run to start the seventh inning, and it was a big one — No. 100 of his career.

The 428-foot blast to left-center field at Tropicana Field came nearly three full years since his first career homer, also at Tropicana Field.

Garcia has three home runs this season after a fairly dreadful spring in which the Rangers chose to keep him out of Cactus League games until March 1. He’s hitting mildly better, at .235, and he has only one non-homer (a single).

The All-Star connected for 39 home runs last season and swatted eight more in the postseason before bowing out after Game 3 of the World Series because of a strained oblique.

If he plays out his arbitration years with the Rangers through 2026, he has a chance at 200 homers before hitting free agency. An even 200 would rank him fourth in Rangers history, one ahead of Adrian Beltre.

Mad dash

Here’s how fast Wyatt Langford is: He almost scored from first base on a grounder to shortstop in the fourth inning.

The Rays were playing as much of a shift as can be played these days against Walsh, who hit a ball in the shortstop’s usual spot. But it was third baseman Curtis Mead there, and his only play was to first base as Langford was running on the pitch.

He didn’t stop.

No one was at third base, which Langford took easily. Third-base coach Tony Beasley then saw that catcher Rene Pinto had gone to cover third, leaving home plate open.

Beasley sent Langford home, and he darn near made it. But Rays first baseman Austin Shenton got the ball to pitcher Ryan Pepiot, who applied the tag before Langford could get to the plate.

Beasley would have sent only a few players, the fastest players like Carter and Leody Taveras.

Langford is in that group, too.

Doggy video!

I usually knock over my water. Enjoy.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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