Kang put on restricted list as visa remains issue

Pirates say move is procedural

Kang put on restricted list as visa remains issue

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Saturday that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been placed on the restricted list stemming from an automobile accident he was involved in while driving under the influence in Korea this offseason.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said that the move was purely procedural and that no punitive action had been planned.

"He's beyond the point of mandatory date for Spring Training so this provides us with some flexibility," Coonelly said. "It is neither a statement of pessimism or optimism whether Jung Ho will get back in time, to report to Bradenton and to be ready to go for Opening Day of the 2017 season."

Kang has yet to make a Spring Training appearance for the Pirates. Because of his pending legal situation, the 29-year-old was unable to obtain a U.S. work visa.

"We are still working to try to get the visa issue resolved," Coonelly said. "It's become complicated as a result of the criminal matter."

Coonelly didn't give a time frame for when Kang may join the team.

Players placed on a team's restricted list don't count against a club's active 25- or 40-man rosters. According to MLB rules, players do not accrue service and do not have a guaranteed salary during this period. Although players are eligible to return to active service after petitioning the league, players who are placed on the restricted list for reasons other than drug suspension or domestic violence incidents cannot be reinstated from the list between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31.

"In theory, he could come off tomorrow," Coonelly said.

Kang was given a suspended jail sentence by a Seoul District Court earlier this month after he pleaded guilty to a third alcohol-related driving charge in eight years. According to police reports, Kang left the scene of an accident after he crashed a rented BMW into a highway guardrail on Dec. 8, 2016. Arrest records showed that Kang was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.08. The legal limit in South Korea is 0.05. Kang was also found guilty of driving under the influence in 2009 and 2011.

Last season, Kang batted .255 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games. Heading into the third season of a four-year, $11 million deal, the former KBO star has a career average of .273 with 36 home runs, 43 doubles and 120 RBIs in 229 games for the Pirates.

J. Scott Butherus is contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.