Pirates won’t let Triple-A stats dictate Jung Ho Kang’s readiness
Through six games of a stint at Triple-A Indianapolis, Jung Ho Kang is batting .182 with four hits, four strikeouts and two walks in 24 plate appearances. After tearing up Single-A pitching during a seven-game baptism back into North American professional baseball earlier this month, the view of Kang — from many fans — has cooled.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, though, cautioned against looking too much at the numbers when it comes to judging the third baseman’s readiness to return to the majors for the first time since 2016.
“We are going to be need to be really careful that it’s not results-driven,” Huntington said Sunday. “But at the same time, we need to see quality plate appearances. We need to see him doing the things he did before to show us he can be major league ready again.
“He might hit .400 but might not show he’s ready. It’s unlikely. But he might hit .150 and show us he is ready. So in small samples, the numbers can be misleading.”
Kang, who was officially added to the 40-man roster Friday, has been playing third base and shortstop for Indianapolis. His return could potentially be a shot in the arm for the Pirates as they evaluate over the next month whether they are contenders leading into the July 31 trade deadline.
Kang did not play last season because his visa for entry to the United States was not approved following his third DUI in his native South Korea.
“We would love to have a healthy and productive Jung Ho Kang back on this major league team,” Huntington said, “because if that player comes back, he’s going to help us win games. We don’t feel we have that player yet; we are working hard, he is working hard to get that guy back. We don’t need to get that guy back – we need something close to that. And he will come up and help us win.”