Chang gets 1st hit, excels filling in for J-Ram

Indians No. 11 prospect also triples and scores two runs

August 25th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- No, those weren’t boos. The “Yuuuu” chants that echoed throughout Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon were the sounds of rookie winning over the hearts of Indians fans.

It was a day of disappointing news for the Tribe, learning that red-hot third baseman Jose Ramirez needs surgery to repair a fractured hamate bone in his right hand. But his replacement, Chang, did his best to showcase what he has to offer in a 9-8 extra-inning loss to the Royals, going 2-for-3, including a triple, with two runs scored after he was recalled from Triple-A Columbus prior to the series finale.

“Yeah, obviously [next man up is a] cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason,” Indians starter said. “We got to deal with it. It sucks. It’s a big blow, but [Ramirez] being him and producing, even when he was struggling, the numbers that he was putting up, he was producing and being productive within the lineup and now that he’s tearing the cover off the ball, it’s a tough loss. But Yu filled in really nice today and got his first knock and first triple and made a couple good plays at third, so we’re not really faced with a choice, it’s just next man up.”

Chang, who is the Indians' No. 11 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is used to hearing “Yuuu” in the lyrics of “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” when he walks to the plate, but the crowd adopted the vocals as their own for the rest of the afternoon, beginning with his first career hit -- a single to left in the fourth.

“That’s the message I tried to give him this morning, to be yourself,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And whatever that is. Just sometimes guys come up and they try to be something they’re not, and then they’re not what they are.”

His name roared even louder in the seventh on his triple off the center-field wall, becoming the first Cleveland batter to record a triple within his first three career games since Turner Ward did so in 1990. Chang took a hard turn around third, eyeing an inside-the-park homer, before throwing on the brakes when he saw the stop sign from third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh.

With a solid first impression after being asked to replace extremely large shoes left by Ramirez, the Indians seem confident that Chang will not let the pressure get to him.

“I think he’ll [keep himself calm], actually, it’s just kind of the guy he is,” Bieber said. “He’s pretty mellow and just does his thing and he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself to begin with. We all saw that today, he came up and produced right away and he just played like himself, he played Chang baseball and did really well."