Jung fractures left thumb, placed on injured list

August 7th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Third baseman has been a mainstay of the Rangers’ lineup ever since joining it late last season, evolving into a leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award this year. But the left thumb fracture he sustained Sunday could cause his biggest setback since he came to the big leagues.

Jung had to leave the Rangers’ 6-0 win over the Marlins in the sixth inning, shortly after he knocked down Jorge Soler’s line drive with his glove hand and then started a crucial double play that staved off a Marlins rally.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Jung underwent X-rays during the game, revealing a broken bone in his thumb. He’ll see a specialist soon, Bochy said. Jung was placed on the 10-day injured list on Monday, and infielder Jonathan Ornelas was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to take his place on the active roster.

The Rangers begin a six-game road trip to Oakland and San Francisco on Monday.

Ezequiel Duran and Josh H. Smith are the two players on the current roster best suited to fill in at third base, while No. 6 prospect Justin Foscue could be an option if Jung has to miss significant time. Foscue is slashing .262/.383/.445 for Triple-A Round Rock.

Jung has dealt with a major injury before, but not since becoming a Major Leaguer. He underwent shoulder surgery during Spring Training in 2022, derailing his quest to open that season as the Rangers’ starting third baseman. Since then, Jung’s durability has been a hallmark of his burgeoning career; he started 26 consecutive games to end the 2022 season beginning with his Sept. 9 debut.

This season, Jung has started 107 of the Rangers’ first 112 games this season, including Sunday. The 25-year-old entered the day leading all MLB rookies this season with 22 homers and was tops among AL rookies in runs (70), hits (117), extra-base hits (47) and RBIs (67).

On the play that led to his removal from Sunday’s game, Jung managed to get his glove in front of Soler’s 109.4 mph liner to third with runners on first and second. Though Jung was unable to make a catch, the ball bounced off his glove and dribbled in front of him. He picked it up, tagged third base for one forceout and threw to second for another. The alert play by Jung helped bail starter Andrew Heaney out of the only real jam he encountered all day.

“That was definitely a game-changing play,” second baseman Marcus Semien said. “Two guys got on with no outs, and a hard-hit ball -- definitely it could’ve went the other way. It’s unfortunate that it looks like he’s going to be out for a little bit.”