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Pirates GM: We need to prepare as if Kang is not coming back

Pirates GM: We need to prepare as if Kang is not coming back
Published On: Mon, Aug 07
Mar 4, 2017; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Andrew McCutchen (22) laughs with Boston Red Sox short stop Brock Holt (12) after he stole second base in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have played the season without third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who remains in South Korea without a work visa. They are preparing for the possibility he may not return next year, either.

Kang has been unable to acquire a work visa following his offseason arrest for driving under the influence, the third such charge against him since 2009. Kang lost his driver's license and received a suspended eight-month prison sentence. He has spent the season on the Pirates' restricted list, unpaid, working out at home with hopes of returning.

Kang hit .273/.355/.483 with 36 home runs for the Pirates from 2015-16. He is under contract for $3 million next season with a $5.5 million club option (or $250,000 buyout) in 2019. Last month, general manager Neal Huntington acknowledged Kang was unlikely to join the Bucs this year. The Pirates are optimistic, but realistic in their planning regarding Kang's status.

"That's been an unfortunate reality from the outset that he may never get a visa again," Huntington said Sunday. "We worked the process, worked the process again and have not gotten a different result. We'll attack it in different ways again the next time through and hope there is a different outcome. We do need to begin to prepare as if he's not coming back."

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