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Hand-wringing about Jung-Ho Kang seems baseless

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's been awhile since I've commented on columns from the Pittsburgh media, and I'm not sure I should be doing that anymore, but I'll make an exception for Rob Rossi's pair of paper-thin pieces on Jung-Ho Kang. In the first, Rossi literally argues that the Pirates' chances of winning the NL Central are in jeopardy because other players don't like Kang (which Rossi knows because Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen didn't say anything during Kang's batting practice one day) because he's Neil Walker's heir apparent. (The idea that the silence of Alvarez, in particular, means anything at all is surely hilarious to anyone who's been around Alvarez for any significant period of time.)

The Pirates' "surest weapon," Rossi writes, is the fact that they're friends. I guess that's one possibility, but I might have gone with McCutchen there.

In the second, Rossi says that Kang would benefit from less media attention because ... well, I don't know why, but it seems to involve Rossi being annoyed by the Korean media being there. Rossi also notes that Kang is "starting to fit in," so it appears the playoff race is still on -- phew!

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Whether the Pirates make the playoffs or not will have nothing to do with whether Kang gets along with his teammates in early March. And it's no surprise that the Korean media would have interest in the first position player from the KBO to make the leap to the big leagues. The Pirates were surely aware that would be the case when they signed Kang.

I'm not sure what Rossi intends with these columns, but they're so flimsy that they basically amount to a whisper campaign. If Rossi knows things that support the conclusions he'd like us to reach, let's hear them. If not, it might be best to accept that it doesn't always mean something when Pedro Alvarez declines to speak.

-P- Today would have been Willie Stargell's 75th birthday.

-P- The Pirates lost 2-1 to the Yankees yesterday. Kang, apparently not distracted by his teammates' seething hatred, doubled, as did Willy Garcia. Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton each pitched two scoreless innings. Tonight, the Bucs take on the Yankees at 7:05.