Kang to miss start of camp because of trial in South Korea
BRADENTON, Fla. — Pirates manager Clint Hurdle did not seem fazed by news third baseman Jung Ho Kang will not be in camp for at least the first few days — and perhaps a lot more — of spring training.
“I'm not going to worry about it,” Hurdle said after pitchers and catchers held their first workout Tuesday. “We'll figure it out as we go.”
The first full-squad workout will be Friday. Kang remains in South Korea, where his trial on drunken-driving charges is set for Feb. 22.
“It is not known how long the trial will last or when any sentencing phase that might be necessary would be scheduled,” team president Frank Coonelly said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to do whatever we can to assist (Kang) and his representatives in their efforts to resolve all necessary matters, so Jung Ho will be able to travel to the United States to prepare for and to play in the 2017 season, but his reporting date remains undetermined.”
With Kang out indefinitely, veteran David Freese could be in line for extra playing time at third base after the Grapefruit league season begins March 25.
“I'm not really focused on Jung Ho. I hope everything works out however it should,” Freese said. “I'm just going to come in here and do my thing. If my name is on the lineup card, I'll get after it.”
Hurdle was not willing to tab Freese as the everyday third baseman in Kang's absence. Other options include Adam Frazier, recent acquisition Phil Gosselin and nonroster invitee Jason Rogers.
“We could get a crazy thought: (Josh) Harrison has played third,” Hurdle said. “I'm just thinking off the top of my head right now. There's different opportunities for guys to man the position. We'll see how spring works out.”
Harrison played in 72 games at third base in 2014 and again in '15. Last year marked his first full season at second base.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.