Heading into the 2023 camp, the Rangers nation is going gaga while showing no poker face about the club’s starting pitching. Questions reign in with the excitement of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, along with new skipper Bruce Bochy. However, one overlooked aspect is the hot corner at third base, Josh Jung. Jung played in twenty-six games and had 102 plate appearances in the season’s final month, getting back from shoulder surgery. While the .204 average, .654 OPS, and thirty-nine strikeouts are not the month he wanted, the goal of 2022 was getting to play baseball. “I wasn’t fully healthy,” Jung said. “I was doing everything I could just to come back and play baseball [and] I got the opportunity to get my feet wet. I got to give myself grace there within it, but it was a struggle.” Josh said he took the start of the off-season to digest all that occurred and take the positives out of it. “I wouldn’t change it because I got to play baseball last year.” His teammate, Sam Huff, even discussed watching Josh’s debut as a highlight of the season for Huff.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW, JOSH JUNG! pic.twitter.com/An5aN9Cb5Z
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) September 10, 2022
Now Josh can train for the season the way he wants to and the way he trained last year before the torn labrum in his left shoulder. The rehab process was about building himself back up with programs, swing counts, and adjusting to his traditional swing (with a few minor details). The biggest thing for Josh is confidence. “I think the trap I fell into last year was chasing old feels. [I] have a new shoulder, and [I] can’t think the same stuff [I] thought and be successful, at least right away, because you haven’t had enough time with it,” Jung said. Josh said it was also about honing in on making contact and not striking out mentally, putting pressure on him (a trap that most players run into, especially younger players).
We’re entering a more confident Josh Jung this calendar year. He said he made a vision board for himself with multiple quotes and reminders that he’s looking to post throughout his locker, especially when things get tough. “I’m putting more emphasis on the mental game that I have the last couple of years to make sure I’m dialed in,” Jung said. “I keep that part of my in check because I feel like I kind of got away from it in the big leagues when I was struggling last year.” A few include “leave no doubt” and “are you entertained?”
Josh Jung with a MOONSHOT HR in Seattle off a former CY Young winner pic.twitter.com/3qGIuJpETL
— RC Maxfield (@RCMB323) September 28, 2022
Defensively, Jung had a negative two outs above average and a run prevention at negative one (fourth among all Rangers 3B last season). For the record, Josh Smith led all Rangers’ third basemen with a plus three outs above average and a run prevention of plus two. Josh told me at third base, he’s feeling good and building that confidence in the shoulder. “I’ve been on my knees diving a lot,” Jung told me in addition to an instance when he returned from his injury. “I was out in Arizona [and] it was my first game back [last year]. I was playing three innings in the field [and] they hit a ball down the line. I went to dive and fell on my butt. I was like; I’m not confident. I’ve been diving in the cages, landing on [the shoulder and] making sure I feel good with it.”
Josh Jung ranks 34th on MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list, including number one on the Rangers prospect list. So there’s pressure like there was pressure last season. For Josh, though, it’s a different outlook to the pressure. “I feel like embracing [the pressure],” he said. “It’s going to be fun [but] I feel like there’s no pressure on me because I got two guys making 500 mil on my left [Marcus Semien and Corey Seager]. They should take all the pressure, and I’ll just give it to them because they can handle it,” Josh said with a grin on his face. The 2023 campaign is about flying under the radar, not making negative headlines, remaining consistent, [and] staying confident. If all those pieces fall into place with the dirty training Josh talked about, add “Jung” mania to the list of excitements for Rangers fans this season.
As far as any Josh Jung vision board quotes in a t-shirt, he told me he hasn’t thought that far ahead. But, don’t be surprised if you see one during batting practice in 2023.
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) September 10, 2022
- Six Underrated Heroes as the Texas Rangers Celebrate First World Series Title
- How do the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks Match Up in the 2023 Fall Classic?
- Texas Rangers bound for World Series vs Diamondbacks in a euphoric state
- Previewing a Texas-Sized ALCS Between Rangers and Astros
- Despite a shaky finish, the Rangers still have the same focus on postseason success as they go to Tampa for the Wild Card series