Pirates move Jung Ho Kang to 40-man roster

June 16, 2018

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Friday he is “seeing signs” Jung Ho Kang is becoming the player he was in 2015 and ’16, when he hit 36 home runs, drove in 120 runs and hit .273.

“But we’re also seeing signs that there is still more time needed (in the minor leagues),” Huntington said.

As a result, the Pirates moved Kang, who was out of baseball last year after three DUIs, from the restricted list to their 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis.

After playing seven games in Single-A Bradenton and hitting .417, Kang spent the past week — four games — in Indianapolis, getting one hit in 15 at-bats.

“He swung the bat well in A ball, not as well in the short stint in Triple-A,” Huntington said. “But it was a short stint in Triple-A. It was a short stint in A ball.”

Huntington said the Pirates have considered “the good and not so good” of Kang’s efforts, but the important point is he is properly conditioned to return to normal baseball activities.

“We felt while there was still work to do, we thought it was the appropriate time to remove him from the restricted list,” Huntington said. “We could have pushed for a longer time on the restricted list, but he’s given us a really good effort.”

Asked what Kang needs to do to take the next step to the majors, Huntington said, “We’d love nothing more than to see him be Jung Ho Kang again, to destroy fastballs, to do damage against breaking balls, to be an athlete who can play defense at both shortstop and third.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.