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Emotional Jung echoes Kobe in reflecting on injury

  • Associated Press

Apr 5, 2024, 08:36 PM ET

ARLINGTON, Texas — Rangers third baseman Josh Jung got emotional reading what he had prepared to explain how he felt about his fractured right wrist and the fourth surgery of his young career.

Though some of the words might have been familiar, the feelings were genuinely his.

Jung said Friday that his statement, modeled after what the late Kobe Bryant said when the Hall of Fame basketball player tore his left Achilles tendon in 2013, helped him get through some of the feelings he had since surgery earlier in the week, when a plate and seven screws were inserted into his wrist. Jung is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks.

“This is such BS. All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one pitch. A pitch I’ve seen a million times,” Jung read from his phone. “The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. The words are few and far in between.”

Jung suffered the broken bone after he got struck when swinging at a pitch Monday night. His right hand immediately went numb, and the break was worse than expected when he had surgery.

The 26-year-old, who last year as a rookie was voted as the American League All-Star starter, hit .412 with two home runs and six RBIs in the first four games after missing most of spring training with a left calf strain.

“You’ve been through something, you know you can do it again,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “Just a shame he’s had to do it so many times at his age. He was primed to have another great year, and he was swinging the bat so well and playing a great third base.”

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft out of Texas Tech, Jung had already played in the All-Star Game when he broke his left thumb on a fielding play at Miami in August. He returned to hit .308 (20-for-65) in the postseason with three home runs for the World Series champion Rangers.

He previously had surgery in February 2022 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, a year after an operation to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.

“Why did this happen to me again? It just makes no damn sense. Now, I’m supposed to come back from my fourth surgery in four years and be better than I was. Again,” Jung said, still reading from his phone and saying some of the same things as Bryant. “Do I have the constant willpower to overcome all of these things? What lessons do I still need to learn? Maybe this is the breaking point. Maybe this is the point of no return. Or maybe this is the story I’ll be able to tell standing at the top of the mountain.”

Jung said real perspective sinks in when finally letting out all the emotions and that he knows there are far greater challenges in the world than a broken bone.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, the same drive and the same conviction,” he said. “One day it will be the end of the road. But that day is not today. Today, you will rise up. You will stand up again. The test of a man is that when he is knocked down seven times, he stands up eight. No matter what you go through, you will endure it and you will conquer it and you will come back better than ever. I will believe it, and I will live it.”

Bryant was 34 when he got injured late in the 2012-13 season. He played parts of three seasons after that.

After reading his prepared remarks while standing at his locker in the Rangers clubhouse, Jung told the small group of reporters around him that he would lean on his experience when again going through rehab.

“It just sucks that you have to do it again,” he said. “But I know how to do it.”


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