Former Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang had been hoping to make a professional comeback in his native Korea, but he has ended that attempt, Jeehoo Yoo of Yonhap News reports. It’s unclear whether Kang will try to play again outside of the Korea Baseball Organization.
The Kiwoom Heroes hold the KBO rights over the 33-year-old Kang, who played for the club from 2010-14. Kang was successful enough in his homeland to earn a guaranteed contract from Pittsburgh, which signed him to a four-year, $11MM pact prior to the 2015 season. It looked like a wise investment for a little while, as Kang slashed a terrific .273/.355/.483 (129 wRC+) with 36 home runs and 5.8 fWAR in 837 plate appearances during his first two years in the majors. However, significant off-field problems – ones that have largely centered on issues with alcohol – have been an unfortunate part of the package.
Kang has picked up three DUI arrests, including one before the 2017 season that stopped him from securing a work visa to return from South Korea. He missed that year and almost all of 2018 as a result, and while Kang did return to the Pirates last season, he only hit .169/.222/.395 (55 wRC+) across 185 trips to the plate. Consequently, the Pirates decided to release him in August.
The likelihood is that Kang will never play in the majors again, and it no longer appears he’ll suit up in the KBO again. The league issued him a one-year suspension back in May, but that ban won’t take effect until Kang signs with one of its teams (if he does). Although the Heroes have his rights, he’s not actually a member of the team.
What a bum. Ruined a potentially solid career by drinking smh.
Then Micky Mantle was a bum too. Ruined what could have been a GOAT career
Add Whitey Ford add Billy Martin to that list.
Whomever. Don’t drink and drive. Nick Adenhart, et al. and their families will appreciate it.
I get your point, but that term seems to be used by kids and people over 60. I vaguely recall that Mantle started drinking more after his bad knee injury. Suffering a major knee injury before surgical treatments were available is a pretty good excuse.
Mantle drank throughout his career and even later admitted that it hampered him while playing. He even drank and drive quite a bit, nearly killing his wife at one point when crashing into a telephone pole. He isn’t vilified for it like Kang here though
Ruth as well. Could’ve been better without daily hangovers.
Other vices and dumb illegal behavior get in the way of greater potential much too often.
Alcoholism is just a terrible problem to have. At least Kang has tried. Poor guy!
2 options for jung ho. a cool, cool name. become an advocate/role model for living a smarter life or he just keeps drinking. hopefully not the latter
I’m pretty sure in an interview in front of the officials of the KBO, he said that he’d basically do anything. He also mentioned teaching children baseball but it wasn’t really considered an option by the KBO.
he can always come back to the pirates. he’s probably still better than 80% of the current team. jung ho will forever be the pirates best third baseman for a long time and he was nothing special
Batflip the guy is not “a bum”, he likely suffers from a devastating, incurable disease called alcoholism. I can assure you from personal experience that he hates alcohol yet can’t stop from drinking it. It is literally a living hell for those in late-stage active addiction. I hope he can hit his personal bottom and begin the long process of recovery. Best wishes to him…
Many alcoholics get drunk but never get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Most alcoholics do get behind the wheel because at the time they didn’t think they were drunk. Most people who get drink socially have at least once driven when they shouldn’t. It’s not a good idea, but it happens. Otherwise there would not be attorneys who make a living representing people charged with OVI. (The name of the offense varies by state.)
And there’s something called Uber/Lyft now. No excuses today.
Michigan, that sucks that you have the experience to sympathize with Kang. However, I have to agree with the Polish Hammer. There is a huge difference between being an alcoholic and being an alcoholic that gets behind the wheel after drinking. I hope there is a path to recovery for the guy.
This guy was fun to watch when he was good. That doesn’t make his case any more or less sad than anyone who wrecked their career due to addiction.
Korea has a designated driver business where you call the service station, which are everywhere, and two guys come to you in one car. One of them drives your car, while you ride shotgun, to your destination while the other follows. Once you reach the destination then they both get back in the original car and drive away to their next fare. Pretty cool, huh. The cost is about 1 1/2 of a typical cab.
Even if Kang wanted another go at the MLB, he would most likely get denied a work visa anyway.
He already obtained a US visa for the 2019 season. He had around 200 plate appearances and was pretty bad. His MLB career is over but the KBO is being heavy handed here. He served his criminal sentence and was effectively suspended from MLB in 2018. There have been no additional incidents since 2017
Going, going, Kang
What a miserable loser this guy was