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#pounditMonday, April 22, 2024

Jung Ho Kang may not return to Pirates next year

The Pirates are staring at the possibility of Jung Ho Kang not wearing their uniform ever again due to issues surrounding his work visa.

Earlier this year, Kang entered a treatment program following an arrest for DUI in his native South Korea. It was his third such arrest since 2009.

Kang has been unable to obtain a work visa and with the season heading towards the home stretch, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely he will suit up for the Pirates this season. On Sunday, general manager Neal Huntington revealed it may be time to proceed as if Kang will never return to play for Pittsburgh again.

“That’s been an unfortunate reality from the outset that he may never get a visa again,” Huntington told MLB.com. “We worked the process, worked the process again and have not gotten a different result. We’ll attack it in different ways again the next time through and hope there is a different outcome. We do need to begin to prepare as if he’s not coming back.”

In his first season with the Pirates in 2015, Kang finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting after batting .287/.355/.461 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI. Last year, he produced a .255/.354/.513 batting line with 21 home runs and 63 RBI.

David Freese has played the majority of games at third base for the Pirates this year in Kang’s absence. He has hit .271/.392/.394 with eight home runs and 36 RBI in 88 games.

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