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Rangers 3B Josh Jung leaves game after getting hit by a pitch on the hand

Jung, a big part of Texas’ future, has gotten off a hot start that put him squarely in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Josh Jung of the Texas Rangers hits a home run in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 24, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As if the Texas Rangers’ three-day trip to Cincinnati hadn’t been rough enough already, now third baseman Josh Jung — one of the primary catalysts behind the team’s early push to the top of the AL West — has exited Wednesday’s matinee against the Reds:

It’s encouraging that Jung was able to initially remain in the game and even play the field for half an inning, and hopefully this is just a precaution to get X-rays started on Jung’s hand and make sure there’s nothing structurally wrong. Ezequiel Duran, who’s been swinging a hot bat lately, replaced Jung at the hot corner.

Jung has been ticketed as the Rangers’ third baseman of the future from pretty much the moment the team took him in the top 10 of the 2019 MLB Draft after a stellar career at Texas Tech. It seemed like that future had arrived in 2022, after two years in which Jung had obliterated the Minor Leagues and turned himself into a consensus top-25 prospect in the game. But a spring shoulder injury short-circuited that plan, and Jung appeared in just 22 games at the tail end of last season.

Jung entered this year fully healthy, and so far he’s lived up to just about all of the hype, entering play on Wednesday with a .281/.326/.494 slash line, five homers and 16 RBI in just 22 games. Jung’s combination of feel for hitting — he never posted an average below .273 at any level of the Minors — and prodigious power makes him a rare commodity, and Texas would be hard-pressed to replace his production if he’s forced to sit out for any extended period of time. (Especially while Corey Seager remains out with his hamstring strain.)