Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in an interview Sunday that the team is preparing for a possible future without troubled infielder Kang Jung-ho, who has spent the entirety of the 2017 season unable to enter the US after his visa was rescinded due to an off-season drunk driving incident.
Huntington described Kang’s situation as “an unfortunate reality,” and renewed the team’s commitment to work with Kang and try to get him back on the field.
But Huntington added, “We do need to begin to prepare as if he‘s not coming back.“
In this file photo taken on March 3, 2017, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Kang Jung-ho arrives at the Seoul Central District Court to attend a verdict hearing on his DUI charges. (Yonhap)
Huntington’s acknowledgment of Kang’s still-uncertain status came off the heels of the Pirates’ acquisition of infielder Sean Rodriguez. For some time rumors had existed that the Pirates were looking for a replacement infielder similar to Kang, one with some power and positional flexibility, and they got their man in Rodriguez.
”Part of this [Rodriguez] acquisition was it gives us another quality infielder,“ Huntington said, citing “power” and “versatility” as some of Rodriguez’s merits.
New Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Sean Rodriguez (L) is doused after helping the Pirates to a walkoff win against the San Diego Padres on August 6, 2017. (Yonhap)
But Huntington was quick to add that the Rodriguez acquisition did not mean the team had moved on without Kang. ”If we’re able to get Kang back into the country, then we have depth. We all of a sudden become a strong lineup with a very strong bench. We‘ll see how that plays out.”
Kang is signed with the Pirates through the end of the 2018 season, with a club buy-out option for 2019. Kang hit .273 / .355 / .483 with the Pirates in 229 games in 2015 and 2016.
By Alex Park / Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)