Cleat Geeks

Does Pirate 3rd Baseman Deserve 2nd Chance?

Do You Have A Problem With The Pirates Kang Getting a 2nd Chance After a 3rd DUI Arrest?

The club announced Thursday that the South Korean third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa by the U.S. government and will report to the team’s training complex in Bradenton, Florida on his way to rejoining the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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. The 31-year-old Kang last played for the Pirates in 2016. 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.

Image result for jung ho kang

Photo by; Getty Images

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. “As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”

Catcher Francisco Cervelli kept in touch with Kang in the 19 months since Kang last wore a Pirates uniform and said he expects Kang to have little trouble reintegrating into a Pirates ballclub and was quoted as having this to say on the matter.”He’s a human,” Cervelli said. “We cannot judge and do anything. He’s a human, make mistakes like everyone else. When he comes back here, we’re going to make sure he’s at home.”

Kang finished third in NL 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.

Kang added 21 home runs in 2016 but was also accused of sexual assault by a 23-year-old woman following an encounter at his hotel room on June 17, 2016, while the team was playing in Chicago. No charges were filed in that case.

Image result for jung ho kang

Photo by; YouTube

The Pirates had moved on at third base in Kang’s absence, acquiring Colin Moran from Houston in January as part of the deal that sent ace Gerrit Cole to the Astros. Moran is hitting .296. So the question remains is Kang enough of a reward for the risk he brings? And before you say he brings little risk, DUI and sexual assault are both serious charges. I realize that his contract is minimal, but that also means the ability to simply pay him his $ 11 Million to go away would not be a huge financial strain. This is an interesting move knowing that they have a young thriving 3rd baseman who is making the league minimum, holding his own at the big league level and is being accused of no wrong doing. It would be different if the Pirates had no big league option at 3rd base. This move is interesting, and I will be intrigued to see how this plays out in Pittsburgh over the remainder of the season.

I am all for 2nd chances, when the person who is requesting the second chance has learned from their first chance. Kang has learned nothing, at least on the surface. He was given an 8 month prison sentence, that was suspended, so he served no time. He also gets to come back and pick up right where he left off money wise with his contract in Pittsburgh. Shortly after he was given his suspended sentence the Pirates placed him on the restricted list which did mean they did not pay him while he was sorting through his visa issues. He also will not get paid until he is added to the 25 man roster no matter how long he stays in extended spring training.

He is by far the first major league player to make a mistake and or get in trouble with the law. But, in my book, there has to be a chapter of learning from his repeated mistakes, and currently that chapter is unwritten. By the statement above the Pirates are going to hold him accountable, but is Kang himself going to be accountable? Until he is, or until he does, I don’t agree with giving him a second chance.

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