Pirates designate Jung Ho Kang for assignment
The glove was still there, but two seasons away from the majors was probably too much for Jung Ho Kang’s bat to overcome.
“That’s our take on it,” manager Clint Hurdle said Friday after the Pirates designated the Korean infielder for assignment. “Love the growth of the man off the field. Love the growth of the man in the clubhouse. Defensively his game came back to him. … He’s handled himself professionally with everything except consistency with the bat.”
Kang, 32, was batting .169 with 18 extra-base hits in 172 at-bats. Over the past 10 games, he was mired in a 1 for 21 slump.
“This season I didn’t do really well, unexpectedly,” Kang said through interpreter Jeffrey Kim. “I feel definitely a little bad for the team, fans, manager and everybody with the Pirates.”
Kang showed star potential in his first season with the Pirates, batting .287 with 15 home runs in 2015. He followed that with 21 homers in 2016, before legal issues and immigration trouble forced him to miss all of 2017 and nearly the entire 2018 season, as well.
He said he wasn’t sure what was in his future. He didn’t rule out a return to South Korea but said he’s appreciated his time with the Pirates.
“It was really an honor,” he said. “It was my dream when I was in Korea playing baseball, to become a major league player.”