3B Jung Ho Kang won’t be on time for Pirates spring training because he’s awaiting trial in his native South Korea for his third DUI arrest.
The Pirates hit just 153 home runs last year, ranking 26th in MLB. The departures of Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce subtracted 31 homers. Kang, with 21 HR in 318 at-bats last season, is their top returning power threat.
What if Kang doesn’t return?
Kang is likely to show up at some point. But MLB will suspend him for his drunken driving dumbness. The Pirates need Kang, and especially his power.
Some are surprised by the lack of local backlash against Kang. With three DUIs and a sexual assault investigation, Kang has problems. Accountability is definitely one of them.
But in Pittsburgh – and other American cities, too, I suspect – somebody from Korea, like Kang, isn’t seen as a real person. He looks different. Talks different. Kang says he doesn't understand our language, so we don't ask him questions. Kang is viewed as a cartoon character. His actions, good and bad, are therefore seen in an altered light.
That’s why Pittsburgh isn't going nuts about Kang’s aberrant behavior. It’s improper. But that’s how it is.