Report: Jung Ho Kang denied U.S. visa, may not play for Pirates in 2017

Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang arrives at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Kang appeared in the Korean court as judges began hearing arguments in a trial over charges that the baseball star fled the scene after slamming a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang finished 2016 with a .255 average, 21 home runs and 62 RBIs. (AP)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been prepared for their infielder Jung Ho Kang to miss most (if not all) of spring training, but it looks like they may need to prepare to be without him for a lot longer. As reported by Naver Sports (and originally translated by Korean baseball writer Sung Min Kim), the U.S. Embassy has rejected Kang’s visa application. Without the visa, Kang can’t enter the United States to play for the Pirates, and he may not be able to play for them at all in 2017.

While it doesn’t appear that there’s an official reason Kang’s visa was rejected, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Kang’s Dec. 2 DUI arrest had something to do with it. He’s been sentenced to eight months in jail for the crime, which has been suspended. However, Kang has two other DUI arrests on his record, and those didn’t stop him from obtaining visas to play in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016.

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On Wednesday, before this report came out, Pirates GM Neil Huntington had already acknowledged that Kang wouldn’t be ready for opening day, since Kang had missed the entirety of spring training and was still going through the visa process. From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

“We’re to a point in time where it’s unrealistic to think Jung Ho’s going to be ready for opening day,” Huntington said. “We remain optimistic we’re going to get him here hopefully sooner than later. Now the challenge is if we don’t, if it takes some time, we’ve built this club and feel good about the guys we have here.”

The Pirates aren’t bereft of infielders, even without Kang. David Freese and Josh Harrison could both see some time at third base. The Pirates also traded for infielder Phil Gosselin when they realized that Kang’s trial would require him to miss time during spring training. Currently, Kang is on the restricted list, which means he doesn’t collect any income and doesn’t count against the Pirates’ 25- or 40-man rosters.

BLS H/N: Sung Min Kim

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher