Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang discussed his attempt to return to the majors with Jee-ho Yoo of Yonhap (here and here). Kang derailed his career when he drove under the influence of alcohol in his native Korea — the third time he has been arrested for a DUI — with a subsequent conviction leaving him unable to obtain a visa to work in the United States. Now, as he prepares to play in the Dominican Winter League, Kang says he hopes “to become a better person and a better player.” Whether or not he’ll be able to return to action in the majors — in 2018 or beyond — will ultimately depend upon the U.S. government.
- In a piece that’s not altogether unrelated to Kang’s situation, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette analyzes the thin margin of error the Pirates front office has to work with in light of the team’s still-limited payroll. GM Neal Huntington notes the need to find “significant value outside of the free-agent market” as well as the imperative to “get more than just a dollar-for-dollar value” in free agency. The piece highlights the challenges facing the just-extended executive as he seeks to position the Bucs for contention once again.
- Needless to say, the Cubs have seen some ups and downs from their rotation this year. Now, it’s key lefty Jon Lester who is struggling to find answers, as Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. The battle-tested veteran has not been very effective since returning from the DL at the start of September; things came to a head last night, as he allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and three hits without recording a strikeout. Lester declined to blame any physical limitations and says he’s “not worried about” the middling results, noting that he simply needs to make adjustments as he has over the course of his successful career.
- The Cubs will hope that Jake Arrieta is sharper when he makes his own return from the DL. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the veteran righty, who went on the shelf right as Lester came back, feels his arm strength may actually have improved after getting some rest due to a hamstring injury. Arrieta is scheduled for two more regular-season outings, though Chicago will wait to make any final calls on the last few games of the year.
- Shortstop Aledmys Diaz is back with the Cardinals after an extended run at Triple-A, but as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, his role with the organization — now and in the future — is quite uncertain. Diaz has moved around the infield a bit at Triple-A, perhaps creating some new versatility, though he continued to struggle at the plate. With Paul DeJong now seemingly ensconced at short, Diaz will need to carve out a new role or wait for an opportunity to open with the Cards or, perhaps, some other organization.