Nobody said it was going to be easy. And nobody is going to feel sorry for the Rangers.
Their sixth straight victory, and second consecutive sweep, came at a huge cost. All-Star rookie third baseman Josh Jung fractured his thumb on a rocket shot hit to him in the sixth inning. It started a crucial double play. But it also knocked him out of action for a while.
Fractured bones don’t heal quickly.
Bad luck seems to follow Jung. He was on the fast track to the major leagues until he fractured his foot in March of 2021, causing him to miss eight weeks. But once he came back, he started putting up numbers that were a glimpse into what he would become.
With third base being a sink hole ever since Adrian Beltre retired, the Rangers were counting on Jung to be their starting third baseman in 2022. So was he. But then, in spring training, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder. That knocked him out for three months. He came back in August and it was like he never left, putting up the numbers that would get him called up to the Rangers in September.
He hit a home run on his very first at-bat in a Rangers uniform. He had some growing pains. But mostly he had signs of being the only successful draft pick in the sixteen-year tenure of Jon Daniels.
He hit the ground running in 2023, making the All-Star team and being the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Then a stupid line drive ruined it all. With runners at first and second, no outs, in a tight 4-0 game, Jorge Soler hit a 110-mile-per-hour rocket to Jung, playing third. The hot corner proved to be volcanic.
The ball shattered Jung’s thumb, popped out of his glove, and he was able to turn it into a double play.
The Rangers lost Jacob deGrom for the season. They’ve lost Corey Seager twice. They’ve lost Nathan Eovaldi. And Jonah Heim. Yet, they sit atop the American League West with a two-and-a-half game lead over Houston.
It’s going to be a matter of the Rangers having to dig deep down again. It’s not enough to have depth. The Rangers needed deep depth. They had it when Seager was lost. They have it in Garver with Heim’s loss. Let’s hope they find it again now.
Because Seager’s thumb isn’t one-hundred-percent healed as it is.
Wounded doesn’t need to mean hurt. It just means time for others to step it up.