Following a year that included an investigation for sexual assault and his third DUI, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang may be removed from South Korea’s roster ahead of the World Baseball Classic.
South Korea manager Kim In-sik touched on Kang’s behavior saying he was mindful of the 29-year-old’s “worsening public opinion” which has heavily influenced his impending decision of Kang’s participation in the tournament.
“Kang Jung-ho is a great player, but I’ve started to wonder if it’s worth the trouble taking him to the WBC (amid falling public opinion),” Kim told Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News Agency.
“Personally, I am leaning toward taking Kang off the roster.”
The 2015 Rookie of the Year candidate was named to South Korea’s roster in November before he was charged with leaving the scene of a DUI accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. Kang’s blood alcohol level was 0.084 percent during the accident, above the legal limit of 0.05 percent. It was his third DUI since 2009; he was also arrested in 2011 in an incident where he caused property damage.
Kang was also investigated for an alleged sexual assault on a woman in a Chicago hotel room in July, though no charges have been laid.
If Kang is in fact removed from South Korea’s roster, Kim confirmed that St. Louis Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh would be considered as his replacement. Despite a strong rookie season with the Cardinals in which he posted 19 saves, Oh was left off the 28-man roster due to a fine from January 2016 on illegal overseas gambling charges.
Oh was suspended 72 games by the Korean Baseball Organization, though Kim admitted he thinks Oh’s inclusion over Kang wouldn’t be as chastised in the public eye.
Kang hit .255/.354/.513 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs last season with the Pirates.
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