Neal Huntington: Pirates' Jung Ho Kang still waiting on U.S. visa
March 19, 2017 10:08 AM
John Minchillo/Associated Press
The Pirates' Jung Ho Kang hits a game-tying two-run home run off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Blake Wood Sept. 16, 2016.
By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. — Jung Ho Kang remains in a holding pattern. Kang is in South Korea waiting to obtain his United States visa and be cleared for travel to Bradenton, where Pirates’ spring training has been in full swing for more than a month.
Earlier this month, Kang, 29, received a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to his third DUI since 2009. The Pirates placed Kang on the restricted list last week, so he does not currently occupy a roster spot and he will not be paid for any regular-season days he misses.
“He continues to work out and work hard on his own,” Huntington said. “The challenge is, he’s in the cold-weather city. We continue to stay in touch with him. He’s doing everything he can do. Until we get him here, until we get a real good feel for where he’s at baseball-wise and what the next steps are.”
Pirates athletic training coordinator Bryan Housand visited Kang earlier this month while working with South Korea’s World Baseball Classic team and reported Kang is in good physical condition. Huntington said Kang, who has not faced live pitching during his offseason training, will need a modified spring training once he arrives in Bradenton.
“He’s going to need some work, some game at-bats,” Huntington said. “We can set up some sim games, we can set up a lot of at-bats for him in a short period of time. But it’s hard to say until we get him here.”
Pirates outfielders Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte will return from the World Baseball Classic early this week, as the Dominican Republic was eliminated Saturday night by Team USA.
“We’ve got some guys we’re going to have to catch up, in terms of at-bats and playing time,” Huntington said. “It’s nice to see Polanco go out and have a fantastic (tournament). It looks like he’s ready.”
Marte went 0 for 4 in the quarterfinal game Saturday and missed some time with an ankle sprain earlier in the tournament. Huntington said the Pirates were in “complete contact” with the Dominican medical staff are are not concerned it’ll be a lingering injury.
“It will be good to get our hands on him and progress him as we feel is appropriate from here on out,” Huntington said. “It’s been a great experience for those guys and we’ve had some young players in camp who have gotten an opportunity to get at-bats.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.
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