Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang set to start playing in minors |

Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang set to start playing in minors

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang sits in the dugout before a game against the Cardinals on Tuesday, July 5, 2016, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Jung Ho Kang is ready for some game action.

The team announced Kang will play in a game for High-A Bradenton on Friday.

Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk described Jung Ho Kang as “in spring training buildup,” meaning he needs at least the typical 15 games and 50 plate appearances a veteran receives in the spring.

“This week, we envision him playing back-to-back with an off day and then three days in a row,” Tomczyk said, “and see how his body responds to that and how the spring training buildup goes for him from a baseball perspective and from an overall physiological body perspective.”

Kang, 31, has not played in a professional game in the United States since October 2016, though he did have a brief stint in the Dominican Winter League last November. He is on the MLB restricted list after he was not allowed a visa into the United States after multiple DUI arrests in his native South Korea.

Planet of the aches

• Tomczyk said veteran reliever A.J. Schugel is continuing advanced plyometric exercises in preparation of being cleared to throw.

Schugel was shut down when his right shoulder discomfort flared back up in April, and he was given a platelet-rich plasma injection earlier this month by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

“Things are heading in the right direction for A.J.,” Tomczyk said.

• Tomczyk said Enny Romero remains at Pirate City as he continues his rehabilitation since being placed on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement.

“We anticipate him getting back into competition sooner rather than later,” Tomczyk said.

• As the one-year anniversary of the Tommy John surgery for Nick Burdi passes, Tomczyk reiterated Burdi “is still on track” to begin live pitching next month.

A former top prospect, the Pirates acquired the big, hard-throwing right-hander over the offseason in exchange for international slot money.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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