Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who in December was charged with his third drunk driving offense in South Korea, will enter a voluntary treatment program, according to agent Alan Nero.
The Pirates declined to comment on Kang’s decision to enter rehab or his status with the club.
It’s not yet clear if Kang will be with the team for the first full-squad workout of spring training Feb. 17 or if he will be disciplined by the Pirates.
On Dec. 2, Kang was arrested and charged with fleeing the scene of a DUI incident near Seoul. His blood alcohol level of 0.084 was above the South Korean limit of 0.05.
In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, MLB’s Treatment Board reviewed Kang’s case and recommended he enter a rehab program.
Per MLB’s Joint Drug Program, participation in such a program “shall be considered as a mitigating factor in any discipline imposed” by the Pirates or the commissioner’s office.
Kang has not been punished by MLB or the Pirates, although he was kicked off South Korea’s roster for the World Baseball Classic.
“At the appropriate time, we will consider Kang’s participation in any treatment program that may be recommended when determining what additional club action, if any, is appropriate,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly told the Tribune-Review on Jan. 5 via email.
Because it’s his third DUI offense, Kang’s driver’s license automatically was revoked. Kang also had DUI arrests in August 2009 and May ’11, when he was playing in the Korea Baseball Organization.
The Pirates said they were unaware of Kang’s first two DUI incidents when they signed him to a four-year, $11 million deal in January 2015.
Kang also is under investigation by Chicago police regarding an alleged sexual assault last June at the Pirates team hotel in Chicago. The alleged victim has not cooperated with police, according to the Chicago Tribune, and Kang has not been charged with any crime.
Last year at this time, one of the biggest concerns for Pirates fans was whether or not Jung Ho Kang would be healthy enough to start the season after blowing his knee out before the end of his rookie season. Kang, a stud in his first year with the Buccos, batted a respectable .287 with 15 HRs and 58 RBIs in 126 games in 2015. In fact, his play was a huge reason why the Pirates decided to trade second baseman Neil Walker last winter. Management viewed Kang as a more affordable alternative for their already established infield with growing potential. Optimism was high af in the Burgh even after two consecutive wild card exits.
Well, I bet those same Pirates fans that were fine with Walker getting ship out of town last year are probably the same fans now thinking, “Can this fucking Kang guy get his shit together?” It was bad enough to get a refrigerator in return for Walker, but it’s even worse that Kang can’t stay out of trouble (or hit as well as did in 2015). If this guy doesn’t stop being a dumbass, the Pirates are going to be scrambling for infield help. Forget this whole voluntary rehab PR stunt, here’s my free advice to Kang: go to the App Store on your iPhone and download the Uber app. Then, use it next time you hit the sauce. And I don’t give a shit if it’s surge pricing hour, you make a fuckton of money. Problem fixed.
P.S. You don’t need a dating app to pick up chicks. You’re a professional athlete. Wear your jersey out to dinner if you have to for Chrissakes.