Rangers’ Josh Jung Has New Approach For 2023

Once he had a month to recover from the 2022 season, Josh Jung realized that he wasn’t the player he has always been.

He was swinging too much and swinging too often at pitches out of the strike zone.

The 2019 first-rounder from Texas Tech said he has never been that kind of hitter, but he had also never felt quite like he did in August and September.

The Rangers’ potential long-term third baseman was pressing after a February shoulder surgery that upended his season. Once healthy, the 24-year-old Jung was racing to his MLB debut.

He hit right away at Triple-A Round Rock and expected a quick callup. But the Rangers didn’t pull the trigger, and Jung strayed from his approach in an effort to keep impressing.

“I was just going up there putting so much pressure on myself just to make contact,” he said. “And once you start focusing on that stuff, you start doing exactly what you don’t want to do. I was going up there like, ‘I don’t want to strike out.’

“Well, that’s probably what’s going to happen because that’s what you’re focused on. I think that’s what I kind of fell into.”

The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Jung homered in his first MLB at-bat, but HE finished his first stint with a .204 average in 98 at-bats. Half of his 20 hits went for extra bases, but he also struck out 39 times and took just four walks.

He struck out 30 times with just four walks in 99 Round Rock at-bats as well.

That won’t happen in 2023, he said, even though he has a whole new set of expectations as a potential franchise cornerstone and a candidate for American League Rookie of the Year.

The mental fix, Jung said, was embracing the pressure. The physical fix, he said, was finding the swing he’d had all his life before surgery. That finally happened in January.

“I kind of found it and I was like, ‘Oh, there it is,’ ” he said. “And it was just like, ‘Yeah, I’m confident and ready to go.’ ”



— Outfielder Aaron Zavala, who had ulnar collateral ligament band surgery in early November, started a throwing program in mid January and will begin hitting at the end of February. The Rangers said after the surgery that Zavala could be ready to hit in games by May.

— Righthanders Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, the Rangers’ first-round picks the past two years, spent a week together working out in the offseason. It was the first time the former Vanderbilt teammates had seen each other since the 2021 College World Series.

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