Kang Jung Ho Waits on Pirates Bench
luvsmiling, April 7, 2015, 10:30 a.m.
South Korean infielder Kang Jung-ho will have to wait at least another day to make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kang watched from the bench as the Pirates fell to the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 on the road Monday, local time, in the two teams' first game of the season.
Kang signed a four-year deal with the Pirates in January after spending his first nine professional seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). The 27-year-old is the first South Korean position player to go from the KBO to the majors. Kang had an up-and-down spring training in which he batted .200 with two home runs and five RBIs.
Primarily a shortstop in the KBO, Kang will likely serve as a backup to Jordy Mercer and also spell Neil Walker at second base. Mercer batted .333 in spring with three homers, while Walker, who ranked second on the team last year with 23 homers, had two in spring along with 10 RBIs and a .316 average.
For the Reds, Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing closer, got the final three outs for the save. Kang has often said Chapman is the one big league pitcher he'd like to face the most. Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo is the other South Korean on the active roster to begin the 2015 season. The Rangers will visit the Oakland Athletics later Monday, local time. Ryu Hyun-jin, a South Korean starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.