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Pirates injury notes: Team ‘hopeful and optimistic’ Jung Ho Kang can play again in 2018

September 10, 2018

Less than three weeks after undergoing surgery to debride cartilage in his left wrist, Jung Ho Kang has been cleared to resume all “gripping-type activities,” Pittsburgh Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday.

“The short-term goal... is to have him attempt to pick up a bat by the end of this week and see where it takes us,” Tomczyk said. “Hopeful and optimistic to have some type of meaningful at bats - whether it’s at Triple-A or in the big leagues with us - this season, He is trending in a good position.”

Kang, who has 36 home runs in 739 career at bats, did not play in North America between September 2016 and June 2018 because of visa issues in connection to multiple DUI arrests in his native South Korea. He appeared in seven games for Single-A Bradenton and nine games for Triple-A Indianapolis between June 1-24 before suffering the wrist injury.

In other organizational injury updates from Tomczyk on Wednesday:

---Righthander Chris Archer is on track to make his next start Sunday after he left his start six days prior to that because of left leg discomfort. Archer played catch on flat ground Wednesday.

“He reported (Tuesday) that if he had to pitch he could pitch that next day,” Tomczyk said, “so this was purely removed as a precaution, as reported, and we are optimistic at this point he will be able to take the ball in a couple days.”

---On the disabled list since June 29 because of a right forearm strain, starter Chad Kuhl is playing catch on flat ground from progressively farther away (right now at 90 feet).

“He has responded, initially, well to the demands of throwing and the throwing program,” Tomczyk said. “So we are going to remain optimistic and encouraged about him pitching some meaningful innings for us the rest of the season.”

---Tomczyk said Starling Marte’s peculiar “doctor’s appointment” absence from the lineup Tuesday was merely a follow-up to when he was a late scratch for a game at Minnesota last week because of illness. Marte pinch hit Tuesday and was in the lineup Wednesday; he was benched by manager Clint Hurdle on Monday for lack of hustle during the prior day’s game.

---Shortstop Jordy Mercer is taking full swings, fielding groundballs and “is doing some type of running activities in the weight room and on the field,” Tomczyk said.

Mercer has not played since leaving an Aug. 14 game because of a left calf strain.

---Josh Harrison will, on some level, be dealing with a lingering hamstring injury for the remainder of the season. Harrison was absent from the lineup for a third consecutive game Wednesday after he’d pulled up lame attempting to run out a groundball during the extra innings of a win Sunday.

“There’s going to be days he’s going to feel it,” Tomczyk said. “There are going to be days it might pull on him, grab on him, maybe days you may see him taking a little longer to get off the field.

“Josh is a veteran player; he knows his body, what he can and can’t push through. And he is going to pick and choose his spots when he can run hard, when he needs to run hard and what that looks like.”

---Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, one of the organization’s top prospects, suffered a shoulder injury Sunday while playing for Double-A Altoona.

“Very odd injury; basically tripped out of the box and landed on his left shoulder,” Tomczyk said. “Taking it day to day. He has not resumed any game activities yet, but they feel he is just dealing with a contusion at this point.”

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