Sudden impact — San Antonio’s Josh Jung homers in MLB debut

San Antonio native and Texas Rangers rookie Josh Jung on Friday made his first at-bat in the major leagues a memorable one, belting a home run over the left field wall in Arlington.

Jung, formerly of San Antonio MacArthur High School and Texas Tech University, led off the third inning in a home game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

He ripped an 0-2 offering from Texas A&M-ex Ross Stripling 388 feet into the seats just beyond the wall at Globe Life Field.

With the blast, Jung became just the second player in the history of the Rangers to homer in his first trip to the plate. He followed Jurickson Profar, who did it in 2012 in a game at Cleveland, according to Kennedi Landry of mlb.com.

In the end, the Blue Jays won, 4-3. The Rangers rallied from a three run deficit to tie it, 3-3. The Blue Jays scored in the top of the ninth to take the lead.

With a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth, Jung struck out swinging against Jordan Romano to end the game. For the night, he went 2 for 4 with a homer, a single and a stolen base.

San Antonio’s Josh Jung expected to make MLB debut with the Texas Rangers on Friday

San Antonio native Josh Jung is being called up to play for the Texas Rangers, media outlets covering the franchise reported Wednesday. The Rangers’ first-round draft pick in 2019 is expected to make his debut on Friday.

Jung played in high school at MacArthur in the North East Independent School District. He was a four-time all-district honoree, a three-time all-region winner and three-time all-state through the 2016 season.

With his promotion from Triple-A Round Rock to the Rangers, Jung follows two other MacArthur baseball legends into the major leagues — catchers Jerry Grote and John Gibbons.

Grote caught Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and won a World Series with the Mets in 1969. Gibbons also played for the Mets and managed the Blue Jays. Another San Antonian, Odie Davis, briefly played shortstop for the Rangers in 1980.

Armed with a powerful batting stroke and agility in the field, Jung established himself in college as one of the top infielders in the history of Texas Tech University. He hit .306, .392 and .343 in his three seasons in Lubbock, leading the Red Raiders to the College World Series as a junior in 2019.

As a result, the Rangers made him the No. 8 overall selection in the baseball draft that summer. In the minor leagues, Jung dominated at the plate with a batting average of .311, an on-base percentage of .381 and a slugging percentage of .538.

He produced 30 home runs and 118 RBIs in 153 games covering the 2019, 2021 and 2022 seasons. Baseball wasn’t played in the minors in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jung is expected to play third base and perhaps some at first with the Rangers. He’s expected to make his debut on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rangers will host the Blue Jays in Arlington from Friday through Sunday.

Since the end of last season, speculation swirled that Jung would be a candidate to make the major leagues at some point in 2022.

Those plans were altered slightly when he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during spring training.

His season started July 28 when he was sent to the Arizona Complex League on a rehabilitation assignment. By Aug. 9, he joined the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock.

Jung has looked good at the plate in Triple-A, hitting .274, with a .317 on-base percentage. His slugging percentage was .526. He homered six times and drove in 24 runs in 31 games.

It’s been a big year for the Jung family. Earlier this summer, Josh’s younger brother, Jace Jung, was picked 12th overall on the first round of the draft by the Detroit Tigers. He is playing in the minor leagues in High Class A for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Jace Jung also played in high school at MacArthur and in college at Texas Tech. While Josh Jung hits from the right side, Jace Jung bats lefty. He, too, hits for power. Both throw right-handed.

Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to San Antonio on rehabilitation assignment

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to San Antonio on Saturday night, with the San Diego Padres’ star playing on an injury rehabilitation assignment. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Wichita Wind Surge scored a 5-1 victory over the San Antonio Missions on Saturday night as a big crowd at Wolff Stadium got a close-up look at San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis, Jr.

Recovering from an offseason wrist fracture, Tatis went 0-for-2 with two walks for the Missions in front of 7,438 fans. It was his first game action of the season. The San Diego Padres haven’t put a timetable on his return, according to AJ Cassavell of mlb.com.

Tatis first came to San Antonio as a highly-touted minor leaguer in the Padres’ system in 2017 and 2018. From 2019 through 2021, he emerged as one of the most exciting young players in the majors, producing a .292 batting average and a hefty .962 OPS.

In that time, he bashed 81 home runs, delivered with 195 RBIs and did it all in his first 273 games in the big leagues.

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tatis, who batted leadoff as the designated hitter on Saturday, is expected to play in the field for the Missions on Sunday – Photo by Joe Alexander

The offseason wasn’t kind to Tatis. He underwent surgery to repair the scaphoid bone in his left wrist on March 16, Cassavell reported.

Cassavell wrote in his story on Saturday that the Padres’ shortstop was cleared to begin a swinging progression in mid-July. Tatis reportedly is in the final step in that progression before he is cleared to return to the Padres.

Padres manager Bob Melvin noted that Tatis would see game action at both shortstop and center field during his rehabilitation stint. “We’re going to take that day to day,” Melvin told Cassavell. “He didn’t have a spring, hasn’t played in the field yet. So we’ll monitor him as we go along.”

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tatis walked in his first two at bats, both on four pitches. He struck out on his third try and popped up to third base in his final plate appearance. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Smith rallies to win The Open, and validation, at St. Andrews

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

In the last 48 hours, Cameron Smith’s emotions have ranged from guarded optimism, to cringe-inducing despair and, finally, to sheer joy and slight disbelief.

It was a ride he’ll always remember.

Smith, a 28-year-old Florida resident from Australia, claimed his first major golf title in stunning fashion Sunday, rallying past one of the biggest names in the sport to win the 150th anniversary of The Open at St. Andrews.

Trailing by four shots entering the last round, Smith drained a number of long putts and produced a 64 on the legendary, par-72 Old Course to claim the Claret Jug trophy.

He joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning The Open in Scotland at St. Andrews, which is considered the home of golf for its history as a place where people first played the game.

“It’s just unreal,” he told NBC television. “This place is so cool. To have the 150th Open here, and to walk away with the win, is something that I’ve dreamt of. I didn’t know (if I’d ever) get this far, and, it’s just awesome.”

Smith fashioned an eight-birdie, zero-bogey final round to finish at 20 under par, beating playing partner Cameron Young (-19) and rallying past crowd favorite and third-round leader Rory McIlroy (-18).

Entering the final round, McIlroy was tied for the lead at minus 16, but the four-time, major winner failed to generate much momentum. Trailing by two on the par-four 18th, McIlroy needed an eagle to tie and force a playoff.

But a second-shot iron from the fairway rolled well past the pin, eliminating him from contention.

“I had a great opportunity today to add to that major (championship) tally, and I didn’t quite get it done,” McIlroy told NBC sports. “I didn’t feel like I did many things wrong, but the putter just sort of went cold on me.”

At the end, on the 18th fairway, a stunning development came when Young hit a tee shot to the green and into eagle territory. Later, the 25-year-old from New York sank the putt and reached 19 under.

Smith was forced to make birdie to break the tie, and he did, tapping in for the one-stroke lead. From there, Smith and Young walked into the clubhouse, waiting for McIlroy to finish.

As McIlroy misfired on his approach to 18, the championship was decided, and the TV cameras went to Smith, who was hugging people. He was the winner.

In a couple of interviews with NBC, he thanked a group of fans from Australia who showed up to support him.

Grinning, Smith also suggested that his victory might prompt a celebration in which the Claret Jug might be employed to hoist a few beers.

For Smith, the tournament had its twists and turns.

He opened with a 67 on Thursday and followed with a 64 on Friday. Coming into Saturday with a two-stroke lead, he endured a tough round in which he double-bogeyed a hole on the back nine and shot 73.

Pain was etched on his face during — and after — the double bogey on the 13th hole.

Coming to the course on Sunday, he told NBC that he just wanted to play it smart off the tee.

“Where we could get on the fairway and give myself a look at birdie,” Smith said. “The putter felt good all week. They didn’t quite all go in yesterday, and today, they were all going in.”

Entering the tournament week, much of the talk centered on Tiger Woods’ return to the Old Course. Could he win again?

Others mentioned as potential favorites included Masters winner Scottie Scheffler and McIlroy, the Nos. 1-2 players in the world rankings. Xander Schauffele had two two straight tournaments and was one of the darkhorses.

There wasn’t much discussion at all about Smith, the No. 6 player in the world who finished tied for third at the Masters, 13th at the PGA and missed the cut at the U.S. Open.

In the end, the winner of the Players Championship earlier this year found validation, and some other intangibles, as well.

“To win it here,” Smith said. “is pretty special.”

Preparing for Sunday’s drama at St. Andrews on the Old Course

The Old Course at St. Andrews is hosting the 150th Open Championship, with the final round set for Sunday. Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland were tied at 16 under par after Saturday. — Photo by Tom Reiter, special to The JB Replay.

By Tom Reiter
Special to The JB Replay

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — A rainy morning will soon become a cloudy, muggy day but nothing can diminish the excitement for the Rory/Viktor battle. Sitting in my favorite seat as the first group came to No. 2. The leaders will be by in about seven hours.

Editor’s note: Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and the leaders have teed off at St. Andrew’s. Tied at 16 under par after the third round, the two have separated slightly. McIlroy has assumed a two-shot lead on Hovland and Cameron Young through six holes. Cameron Smith is three off the pace.

McIlroy, Hovland set for a title duel at St. Andrews

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Former Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland took charge on Saturday at the 150th Open Championship, finishing their third rounds with sizzling 66s on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

They’ll try to match the intensity on Sunday, with the coveted Claret Jug trophy and a major championship hanging in the balance. Both will enter the final 18 holes of the tournament tied for first at 16 under par.

Still clinging to championship hopes, Cameron Young and Cameron Smith (both -12) remain in the title picture, as do Scottie Scheffler and Si Woo Kim (-11).

Because of McIlroy and Hovland’s position atop the leaderboard, both will be paired together, just as they were on a memorable Saturday.

“It’s nice I get to play with Viktor again,” McIlroy told NBC news. “It’s a comfortable pairing for both of us, and I’m looking forward to that. But, yeah, I’ve kind of been knocking on the door for awhile (in major championships).”

The pressure would seem to be more pronounced for McIlroy, 33, a legendary name in the game from Northern Ireland, who is playing in front of a crowd that has been chanting for him all week.

Hovland, 25, a native of Norway who played at Oklahoma State University, is trying to win his first major.

This would seem to give the edge to McIlroy, who has been in pressure situations more often.

Then again, he hasn’t won in one of golf’s four majors since 2014 when he claimed titles at both The Open, formerly known as the British Open, and the PGA.

“This is the best chance I’ve had in a long time,” McIlroy said on NBC’s afternoon telecast. “I just need to stay in my own little world for one more day and hopefully I can play the sort of golf that’s good enough to win.”

A teammate of Hovland on the 2021 European Ryder Cup team, McIlroy authored the shot of the day. It came after he made a potentially disastrous mistake and sent a ball into a green-side bunker.

But from the sand, McIlroy blasted out brilliantly with a shot that took a few bounces on the green and rolled into the cup for eagle.

“As soon as I hit the bunker shot I knew it was going to be close,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t imagine it was going to go in. Sometimes you need little bits of luck like that to go on and win these types of tournaments.

“That was a real bonus. I played well from there on in. Definitely the highlight of the day.”

Hovland started to get extremely hot on the front nine when he birdied four holes in a row. But after McIlroy seized momentum with the eagle on 10, the former Big 12 Player of the Year at Oklahoma State responded with a birdie on the same hole to tie.

Playing with confidence and feeding off the crowd, McIlroy kept applying pressure, taking a one-shot lead with another birdie on No. 14.

“It kind of felt like match play,” Hovland told NBC. “I didn’t try to think of it that way. You know, regardless of whether he made his putt or missed his putt.

“That wasn’t going to change what I was doing. I knew I just needed to play good golf and I was really happy that I was able to shoot a bogey-free round today.”

McIlroy made his biggest mistake of the day on No. 17, the famous road hole, when he hooked into the rough off the tee.

From there, he hit a ball that bounced on the fairway, and kept bouncing until it hit a wall short and way to the right of the green.

While Hovland made par, McIlroy notched his only bogey of the day to fall back into a tie for first.

On No. 18, it stayed tied way as both birdied to put them at six under for the day. Hovland vowed that he’d take an aggressive approach to the last round.

“I’m going up against one of the best players in the world,” he said. “Certainly not going to hold back, because I know he’s definitely not. I’ll probably need to play more like I did today and, yeah, hopefully that gets the job done.”

Before golf, a morning stroll through St. Andrews

An image of the St. Andrews Cathedral site on a sunny, Saturday morning in Scotland — Photo by Tom Reiter, special to The JB Replay.

What is a trip to Scotland without taking a look at some really old buildings? On a walk through town before the third round of the Open Championship, one of golf’s major tournaments, Tom Reiter found one of the oldest. This is St. Andrews Cathedral, a ruined chancel dating back to the mid-12th century, according to historyhit.com.

According to the website, the structure was built originally in the year 1158. It was part of the medieval Catholic Church in Scotland, the seat of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews. It fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th century Scottish Reformation, historian Luke Tomes wrote.

Smith hopes to prove he belongs atop The Open leaderboard

By Jerry Briggs
For the JB Replay

The first seven names atop the leaderboard at the 150th Open Championship include some of the world’s most accomplished golfers. Major championship winners. Title holders who have experienced the feeling of holding the world’s No. 1 ranking. Legends who have collected vast amounts of prize money.

Australia native Cameron Smith can’t check off all of those boxes. But he does have something that the others would like to achieve. It is the ‘No. 1’ aside his name among leaders of a prestigious tournament that reached the halfway point Friday on the Old Course, at St. Andrews, Scotland.

Smith, from Brisbane, Australia, paces the field at 13-under par going into Saturday’s third round. He leads by two strokes over Cameron Young, a PGA Tour rookie from New York, and by three over two others, including crowd favorite Rory McIlroy, the world’s second-ranked player who has won four major championship titles.

Other major winners in striking distance include Dustin Johnson, who is in fifth place, four shots off the pace, and Scottie Scheffler, a former University of Texas standout, who is five back and in a two-way tie for sixth.

Yes, it is true that Young (-11), McIlroy and Viktor Hovland (both -10), Johnson (-9) and Scheffler and Tyrell Hatton (both -8) all have enjoyed hot streaks and have wowed the galleries this week at St. Andrews. None, however, have matched the overall sizzle and consistency that Smith has displayed in the past few days.

Smith, in fact, has produced a two-day score of 131 that is the best in the history of the Open at St. Andrews after the opening two rounds. His 36-hole score is better by one stroke than the 132 posted by Nick Faldo and Greg Norman in 1990 and matched in 2010 by Louis Oosthuizen.

After Friday’s drama, Smith told reporters in Scotland that he would try to relax between now and his afternoon tee time Saturday. He said he’d go out to dinner with countryman Adam Scott to celebrate Scott’s birthday. He said he’d come back to his hotel and watch “Peaky Blinders,” a British drama about gangsters in the early 20th century.

One online review says of “Peaky Blinders,” that it’s a “resounding victory for style over substance.” So be it. Smith will take it all in, sleep late on Saturday and then perhaps go to the gym for a morning workout. The man with both the style and the substance in his game will then report to St. Andrews. Still looking for his first major title, the No. 6 player in the world is in charge of the 150th Open Championship until further notice.

Ultimately, by Sunday, the 28-year-old resident of Jacksonville, Fla., hopes to hoist the Claret Jug trophy, to boost that ranking just a little bit, and to cement his legacy among those considered the best in the game.

Purple for the rain: A determined fan enjoys Day 2 of The Open

Tom Reiter dressed for the rainy weather Friday on the second day of the Open Championship at St. Andrews. — Photo special to The JB Replay

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Earlier this afternoon, my cell phone buzzed. It was Tom Reiter, texting from Scotland.

He told me he had been on the Old Course at St. Andrews since 7 this morning. When he arrived, it was raining. Thus, the purple slicker.

“It makes you look regal,” I told him.

“It didn’t get me in the royal box,” he replied.

Oh, well. Reiter did send along four pictures of his day spent watching the second round of the Open Championship.

Bleacher seats

Tom Reiter and travel partner John Conway find bleacher seats overlooking the green on No. 2 at the Old Course. — Photo special to The JB Replay.

Rory’s focus

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland sizes up a putt on the second hole Friday at St. Andrews. — Photo special to The JB Replay

Let the sunshine in

Under a warming sun, fans gather in the spectator village on the Old Course at St. Andrews. — Photo special to The JB Replay.

Tiger’s last walk at St. Andrews? Woods is met by deafening cheers

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Early Friday morning in Scotland, a light rain fell softly, leading to a reshuffling of the leaderboard at the 150th Open Championship. By mid-afternoon, cheers from the fans deluged one of golf’s greatest players.

A few hours after Dustin Johnson and a few others seized an opportunity to make a raft of birdies, legendary Tiger Woods took a walk up the 18th fairway. He was drenched in admiration from the fans on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Cheering wildly, the paying customers hailed the 46-year-old Woods not only for his valiant effort to overcome crippling injuries suffered in an automobile accident 17 months ago, but also for his excellence, and for the memories he has supplied over the past 25 years.

In a television interview after the round, Woods, a winner of 15 major championships, shrugged off the fact that he had missed the cut and that he struggled mightily with his game over the past two days.

“Anytime you get a chance to come back and play the Old Course, in the Open, it’s just special,” Woods told a reporter for NBC television. “It really is.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be doing this since 1995. I don’t know if I’ll be physically able to play another British Open here at St. Andrews. I certainly feel like I’ll be able to play more British Opens.

“But I don’t know if I’ll be around when it comes back around here.”

The Open is one of golf’s four majors. It rotates between other courses in and around Great Britain. Reportedly, the soonest it could come back to St. Andrews would be in 2027.

Woods acknowledged that the ovation on perhaps his last walk up the 18th fairway touched his heart.

“The warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me,” he said. “It was just incredible, just the amount of understanding and respect from all the people in this event, (all of them) that come out and support it. (From) the players.

“The nods I was getting as the players were going out (on the course). I looked over there and, you know, Rory (McIlroy) gave me a tip of the cap. JT (Justin Thomas) did the same. It’s just, there’s something to it, that’s just different.”

Woods, whose play has been sporadic this year in coming back from the injury, admitted he is “a little ticked” that he doesn’t get to play the final two rounds of the tournament.

“I certainly didn’t play good enough to be around,” he said. “I wish I would have played better. I wish I had had a little bit better break in the first hole yesterday … maybe started off a little bit better, but that’s just kind of how it all went. It just kind of never materialized.

“I fought hard, and unfortunately, I just could never turn it around. I struggled with the greens again today. I could never hit putts hard enough. I was leaving them short again. So, consequently, I didn’t make enough birdies.”

Editor’s note

Thanks again to U.S. golf fans Tom Reiter and his friend John Conway, who have been on the scene in St. Andrews since Monday. Both have worked to supply fans in San Antonio with original content from The Open.

Tom Reiter (left) and John Conway. — Photo special to The JB Replay

Reiter, who in the 1970s served as the editor of The Ranger at San Antonio College, has been sending essays and journals. Both have forwarded photos. Great work by a dynamic duo.

Rainy morning

A rainy Friday morning in Scotland, along with softer fairways and greens on the Old Course at St. Andrews, apparently proved beneficial to a host of golfers, who charged up the leaderboard early on the second day of the tournament.

Johnson made the most of the situation, rallying from four shots behind at the start of the day and into a one-shot lead midway through round two. Johnson opened with a first-round score of 68 on Thursday and then backed it up with a 67.

With the performance, the name of the LIV Golf series standout moved atop the leaderboard at nine under par.

“I played really well,” Johnson told a NBC television news reporter. “I think I hit all the greens. I had a lot of really, really good looks at birdies. I missed quite a few short ones. But I made some nice putts, too.”