March 3: Pirates president Frank Coonelly has issued a statement on Kang’s sentencing, via press release, which reads as follows:
“Now that Jung Ho’s legal case in Korea has concluded, we will continue to work with him and his representatives in an effort to secure his work visa so that he may resume his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. We look forward to meeting with Jung Ho as soon as he is able to travel to the United States and having a serious discussion with him on this issue and how he has and will change those behaviors that led to the very serious punishment that has been levied against him in Korea. We will withhold judgment on what Club discipline, if any, is appropriate until we have had an opportunity to have that discussion. We will also withhold from further comment until we have an opportunity to meet with Jung Ho. Regardless of our decision on the disciplinary issue, we will do everything that we can as an organization to assist Jung Ho as he works to change his behavior and grow into the man that we know he can be.”
March 2: Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang has been sentenced in the DUI case in which he admitted guilt, as Jee-ho Yoo of Yonhap News reports. Kang received an eight-month sentence, but it has been suspended for two years, clearing the way for him to return to Pirates’ camp.
Kang can avoid any jail time if he does not violate the terms of the suspended sentence. He has two prior DUI arrests in his native South Korea, though still managed to stay clear of a prison this time around. Whether or not he’ll face any discipline from Major League Baseball remains to be seen.
Clearly, there’s a broader issue of maturity at play here for Kang, who has endangered others with his poor decisionmaking. He has also been accused in the United States of sexual assault, though it’s not clear at present whether those allegations have any merit, and whether there’s any chance of prosecution.
On the baseball side of the ledger, there’s no doubting Kang’s importance to the Pirates. The 29-year-old has been a steady producer when healthy, providing Pittsburgh with a cumulative .273/.355/.483 batting line and 36 home runs over 837 plate appearances over the past two seasons. The Bucs guaranteed Kang just $11MM in total for his four-year deal, which also includes a $5.5MM club option for 2019.