Despite a power surge at a windy Wrigley Field this weekend, there is no doubt the Pirates, who continue to rank in the bottom six of major league teams in both home runs and run production, desperately want Jung Ho Kang’s bat to return to the lineup in 2017. Unfortunately, the team is officially two weeks into their season and still remains without any timeline for a potential Kang return.
After being a denied a Visa in late March, Kang had reportedly filed an appeal of his sentence, but the dates of that hearing have either not been scheduled or disclosed at this juncture. Clint Hurdle wasn’t able to provide any more clarity that that when he spoke to MLB.com recently, saying, “It's completely out of our hands. We'll know more when we know more. [But] yeah, we'd love to see him this season.''
In terms of a minor new development, Phil Rogers, a national columnist for MLB.com, is reporting that the Pirates are sending a new pitching machine to Korea in hopes of keeping Kang locked in as long as his season remains in limbo. This pitching machine has been described as a “cross between the Japanese-made Shizuoka Prefecture, which can throw 143-mph fastballs, and the programmable e-Hack Attack, which throws Corey Kluber-style sliders and Kyle Hendricks changeups,” so perhaps the transition back to hitting major-league pitching will be slightly less dramatic for Kang if or when he is granted access to the United States.