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Neal Huntington acknowledges that Jung-Ho Kang likely won’t play this year

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

In the not-really-news department, Neal Huntington is now saying that the Pirates don’t expect third baseman Jung-Ho Kang to play for them this year. But it goes a bit further:

As far as 2018, we still remain optimistic that we’ll go through the process again this offseason, and perhaps the thought process or the environment will change. But we have to face the reality that it might not.

This isn’t exactly news, either, but it’s a step back from the more optimistic tone that the Pirates have generally adopted. If their only chance is to rely on a change in the “thought process or the environment,” that’s a very faint hope.

It’s apparent from this that the Pirates will have to address their third base situation between now and next March. Or second base, with Josh Harrison moving to third full time. David Freese has been adequate this year, with a .736 OPS, but that’s mostly the product of a .954 OPS in April. Since then, he’s posted a 217/359/299 line. Of course, that doesn’t mean he necessarily will keep hitting that way, but he’s 34 and has never been more than a solid player, so there’s no reason to think he’ll age all that well from this point on. He probably needs to transition strictly to a bench role.