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Rossi: Kang would benefit from less attention

PTRRossi02030615
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Korean reporter Sunshin Kim interviews Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after presenting him with a Jung Ho Kang t-shirt during an interview Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
PTRRossi01030615
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Korean reporter Sunshin Kim presents Pirates manager Clint Hurdle with a gift during an interview Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla.

I need a few gift ideas for Clint Hurdle.

Perhaps a strange request to begin a column, but …

Well, none of you were upstaged like I was Wednesday afternoon at McKechnie Field, when my new media friends from South Korea turned Hurdle’s daily news conference into a party. He was presented a personalized stamp that spelled out his name in Korean. He also scored a T-shirt that featured a caricature of Jung Ho Kang, the Korean star responsible for the monster-sized media contingent covering the Pirates spring training.

“See Rossi, this is how you do it,” Hurdle said between laughs. “They bring me gifts.”

I reached into my bag, pulled out a protein-packed granola bar and offered it to Hurdle.

Not my finest moment.

But really, who give gifts to the manager? And who shows up to cover the Pirates wearing autographed Pirates shirts and caps?

These are different rules for a different type of media.

Part of me is intrigued by the Kang Krew’s unabashed adoption of the Pirates as their favorite team.

All this attention is not what Kang needs. He’ll be better served as the Krew becomes smaller over the coming days, and if only a few members of it accompany him to Pittsburgh for the real games.

Kang looks like he’s starting to fit in with a close group of veterans. He’s made fast friends of Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte. He doesn’t need the Krew around all the time, asking him — if not giving him — who knows what.

I suspect he realizes that, and I’m convinced Hurdle is sure of it.

On Tuesday, after his first spring-training game, Kang spent about 20 minutes taking questions — first from the Krew, then briefly from English-speaking reporters. That would have marked a long time for Andrew McCutchen to speak after a postseason game.

Kang clearly understands his pursuit of Major League stardom is a transcendent story back home and throughout Asia. So do the Pirates, who are permitting him two interpreters, in addition to going above and beyond to satisfy the requests of the Krew.

But I also can’t forget Hurdle’s last words as he took those new gifts back to his office Wednesday.

“Fun doesn’t last forever,” Hurdle said.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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