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Coonelly: Pirates withholding decision on possible Kang punishment

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, March 3, 2017, 8:27 a.m.
Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang watches his solo home run during the eighth inning against the Cardinals Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang watches his solo home run during the eighth inning against the Cardinals Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, at PNC Park.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pirates president Frank Coonelly was mum Friday on whether the team will discipline third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who was handed a suspended jail sentence from a South Korean court for drunken driving.

Kang was sentenced to eight months in prison by Seoul Central District Court for fleeing the scene of a DUI incident Dec. 2. The court suspended Kang's sentence two years.

Kang is attempting to secure a work visa so he can attend spring training camp.

Via an emailed statement Friday morning, Coonelly said the Pirates will have a “serious discussion” with Kang about the DUI conviction when he rejoins the team.

“We will withhold judgment on what club discipline, if any, is appropriate until we have had an opportunity to have that discussion,” Coonelly said. “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.”

Kang's four-year, $11 million contract runs out in two years. The Pirates hold a $5.5 million option for 2019.

This was Kang's third DUI offense since 2009. The first two happened before he signed with the Pirates.

It is still unclear how long it will take Kang to acquire a visa.

“We can't work with the young man until he gets over here, and I don't know when that's going to happen,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We'll provide every bit of support we can when he gets here.”

The Pirates will wrap up their spring training camp in four weeks. The season opener is April 3 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

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