Jung Ho Kang is back in the United States and on his way to rejoining the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The club announced Thursday that the South Korean third baseman has been granted a work visa by the U.S. government and will report to the team’s training complex in Bradenton, Florida.
The 31-year-old Kang last played for the Pirates in 2016. He was arrested in South Korea on DUI charges for a third time in December 2016 and received an eight-month suspended prison sentence that led to visa issues.
Pittsburgh, which signed Kang to an $11 million, four-year contract in January 2015, placed Kang on the restricted list last March after Kang failed to secure a visa. The club said Kang will remain on the restricted list while he works out in Florida.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said the team is pleased have to Kang back but added Kang must fulfill obligations under a treatment program he agreed to as a condition of his return.
“We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the game he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together,” Coonelly said in a statement.
Kang finished third in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 2015 after becoming the first position player to make the leap from the Korean Baseball Organization directly to the majors. He hit .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs for Pittsburgh in 2015 as the Pirates won 98 games and reached the playoffs for a third straight year.
Clearing the bases
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game after he was beaned during a victory at Colorado last weekend. Bryant visited with a team doctor on Thursday, and the Cubs said Bryant hasn’t been diagnosed with a concussion. … Joe Kelly’s appeal of a six-game suspension has been denied and the Boston pitcher has started serving the penalty. Kelly was disciplined for twice throwing at the New York Yankees’ Tyler Austin on April 11. Austin charged the mound and was suspended five games. Austin appealed and his suspension has been cut to four games. … Reliever Andrew Miller has been placed on the 10-day disabled list by the Cleveland Indians because of a strained left hamstring. He has struck out 17 and walked four over 10 scoreless innings in 11 games this season. … Third baseman Eugenio Suarez was activated from the 10-day disabled list by the Cincinnati Reds and went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to Atlanta. … The Oakland Athletics have optioned opening day starter Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Nashville. Graveman was 0-5 with an 8.89 ERA in six starts. He has the most losses, runs allowed (28) and hits allowed (41) in the majors.
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