Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang has been denied a visa and is unable to enter the United States, leaving his status for this season in doubt, according to a Korean media report.
Kang was arrested in December for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, his third drunk-driving arrest in his home country. He received a suspended eight-month jail sentence earlier this month. Kang recently filed an appeal, which will reportedly be heard in early April.
“The facts, as we know them, are that Kang still has not been granted permission to travel to the United States under a work visa,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement Friday. “We continue to work with Kang and his representatives to present materials and information to the appropriate parties in the United States government that we believe establish that Kang should be permitted to travel to the United States under a work visa and we remain hopeful that such a resolution will be reached in the near future.”
Kang is also suspected of a drunk-driving offense in a country other than Korea or the U.S., according to the report, though Coonelly said the team has “no indication” that is true.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Thursday that Kang will not be ready for Opening Day.
Kang has been Pittsburgh’s starting third baseman for the last two years. David Freese is expected to fill that role in Kang’s absence.