All-Star rookie Josh Jung back in Rangers’ lineup for playoff chase

All-Star rookie third baseman Josh Jung was back in the starting lineup for the playoff-chasing Texas Rangers on Monday night after missing six weeks with a fractured left thumb.

Manager Bruce Bochy, after watching Jung go through a live batting practice, said he would be playing third base and hitting fifth in the opener of their home series against the Boston Red Sox.

The Rangers hadn’t made any official roster moves while also waiting to see how All-Star right fielder Adolis Garcia got through pregame drills in the outfield. Bochy said Garcia also looked good in BP, would meet with doctors before the game and that there was the possibility he could play as well.

After being swept in three games against the Guardians over the weekend, the Rangers opened their final homestand 1.5 games behind the AL West-leading Astros. They had a one-game lead over the Mariners for the American League’s third and final wild-card spot. Texas will play seven of its last 10 games against Seattle.

Jung, a leading candidate for the AL’s top rookie award before his thumb injury, got hurt on a bizarre play against the Marlins on Aug. 6.

Jorge Soler hit a scorching 110-mph line drive directly at Jung. The ball bounded out of his glove, but he grabbed it and started a double play by tagging the bag and throwing to second. Jung then left the game.

In 109 games, Jung hit .274 with 22 homers and 67 RBIs. He was leading all major league rookies in homers, RBIs, hits (117), runs (70) and extra-base hits (47) when he got hurt. He had only three errors in 290 total chances at third base for a .990 fielding percentage.

Monday was the first day that Garcia was eligible to come off the 10-day IL because of a patellar tendon strain in his right knee. He was the AL leader with 100 RBIs when he got hurt Sept. 6.

The Rangers had six All-Stars this season, and all but second baseman Marcus Semien have had IL stints since that game in mid-July. They are also without two injured Cy Young Award winners.

Shortstop Corey Seager and switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim were already back in the lineup. Right-handed starter Nathan Eovaldi is scheduled Tuesday for his fourth start since missing seven weeks with a strained right forearm.

Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer will miss the rest of the regular season, and likely the playoffs as well if the Rangers make it, because of a muscle strain in his shoulder after his start last week. Two-time Cy Young Jacob deGrom had season-ending elbow surgery after Texas won each of his six starts before the end of April. He signed a $185 million, five-year contract in free agency last winter after nine seasons with the Mets.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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