The Dallas Morning News

Jung healthy and ready to finally finish spring

Odorizzi among cadre of pitchers dealing with medical issues

- By EVAN GRANT Staff Writer Twitter: @Evan_p_grant

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A big moment from the Rangers’ 4-1 loss Monday to Colorado: In the fourth inning, Josh Jung hit a hard ground ball to short.

It was his 16th at-bat of the spring, surpassing his previous combined spring training totals of the last three seasons. What’s notable about that: Jung is having a healthy spring as he prepares for his first full season in the big leagues.

“It’s great to actually play games for a change,” Jung said. “I’m continuing to work and get myself in a good position.”

Jung’s first three springs all ended prematurel­y. In 2020: The pandemic. In 2021, he finally reported the constant ache in his left foot only to find out he had suffered a stress fracture on the bottom of the foot. And last year was over before it began due to a shoulder injury he suffered his first week in Arizona, even before the lockout was settled.

This spring it’s important for him to build up at-bats and playing time. He’s going to be the Rangers’ opening day third baseman, providing he exits healthy. That decision is settled. And it’s good to feel healthy. Last week, he dove across his body, landing on the left shoulder that had been surgically repaired. When he got up, he’d made the stop and got up pain free.

After going 1 for 3 with a single on that hard hit ball to short, Jung now has 17 at-bats this spring. He’s got three more weeks’ worth of games to log before the season begins, but even then he’s likely going to still be honing his swing.

He and Nathaniel Lowe have discussed seeing 1,000 pitches as an ideal target for getting swing and timing down. Batting practice doesn’t count, according to Jung.

“Only when people are trying to get you out,” Jung said.

Lowe is likely to finish with more pitches seen. He’s more of a tracker. Jung is a more aggressive swinger.

“I’m building up to where I want to be,” Jung said. “I’m not consistent enough on the barrel yet. I don’t know that we will get there [1,000 pitches], but we’re trying. It’s more just the mentality of working to get there, not trying to rush things.”

Odorizzi’s readiness for start of season in doubt:

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi continues to throw bullpen sessions but has yet to pitch to a hitter after experienci­ng some early spring arm fatigue. GM Chris Young acknowledg­ed the situation is putting Odorizzi’s ability to start the regular season on the active roster in doubt.

Young said the Rangers need to get a firmer idea in the next week of where Odorizzi is in the process. The Rangers had planned for Odorizzi to open the season as a multi-inning reliever in the bullpen. More medical updates:

■ Right-hander Jacob degrom is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session to hitters on Wednesday. If that goes well, his next step would likely be to pitch in a game, probably early next week. Young said the Rangers expect degrom to be ready for the start of the season.

■ Right-hander Jon Gray experience­d no back stiffness issues after a bullpen session on Sunday and is expected to return to the rotation on Wednesday.

■ Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (side stiffness) still is not throwing off a mound, but Young said he is making progress. Because Eovaldi was preparing to pitch in the World Baseball Classic up until he reported to camp, he is considered ahead of where he would have normally been, so the time off isn’t expected to set him back significan­tly.

■ Right-hander Spencer Howard reported arm fatigue and was scratched from scheduled appearance­s on both Sunday and Monday. The Rangers don’t believe the issue will result in a significan­t loss of time but are giving him a few days off.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States