9:49pm: The Pirates announced that Kang’s surgery will keep him away from competition for an estimated period of six to eight months. That would seem to make a return late in Spring Training the best possible scenario.
The procedure that was ultimately required, per the announcement, was a “reduction/internal fixation of a displaced lateral tibial plateau fracture with a lateral meniscal repair.”
6:06pm: Kang is out for the year with a significant injury, according to a report from Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghSports.com (subscription required). Kang has a torn MCL and meniscus as well as a fractured tibial plateau.
That’s bad news for the playoff-bound Pirates, of course. A recovery timeline remains unclear, but the club’s offseason plans will be heavily impacted by Kang’s outlook.
1:21pm: Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang suffered a knee injury in this afternoon’s contest when Chris Coghlan slid into second base to break up a double play effort. As Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes, Kang exited the game with the help of two trainers and did not put any weight on his left leg. To this point, the Pirates have announced only that the knee is being examined, though the injury certainly looked to be fairly serious in nature (video link).
Kang has been one of the best rookies in all of baseball this year, riding a .287/.355/.461 batting line, 15 homers, five steals and solid defense to legitimate Rookie of the Year candidacy. His outstanding rookie campaign has already more than justified the Pirates’ modest $16MM offseason expenditure (when including the posting fee), and a loss for any significant amount of time would be a huge loss for Pittsburgh as the team has pulled within four games of the Cardinals for the NL Central lead.
Pittsburgh is likely to end up in the postseason as a Wild Card team even if they don’t catch the Cardinals, but the difference between staking a season on a one-game playoff versus a best-of-five series is sizable. Without Kang, the Pirates will lean even more heavily on Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer in the infield. While Mercer has a history of reasonably productive seasons, he’s slumped to a .240/.291/.306 batting line in 2015 (including today’s two hits), so the Pirates will hope that Kang’s injury is one from which he can return in relatively short order.