Kang reportedly loses appeal of DUI sentence

Court's decision casts further doubt about return to Pirates

Kang reportedly loses appeal of DUI sentence

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang reportedly lost his appeal of a suspended eight-month jail sentence following his December arrest for driving under the influence, casting further doubt at to whether he will play in the Major Leagues this season.

According to a Yonhap News report, the Seoul Central District Court denied Kang's appeal on Thursday and upheld his sentence, which is suspended for two years, after he fled the scene of a drunk-driving accident in early December.

"We are aware of the ruling this morning in Jung Ho's legal proceedings in South Korea, however, it is premature to comment on the impact, if any, it will have on his ability to secure permission to travel to the United States under a work visa," the Pirates said in a statement. "We will continue to work with Jung Ho and his representatives as he works through that process."

Kang, who is on Pittsburgh's restricted list, remains in his native South Korea awaiting a work visa. He applied for a visa before the court's initial ruling in March, but that application was rejected, Yonhap News reported.

The DUI arrest in December was later revealed to be Kang's third since 2009. The Bucs have said they were not aware of Kang's two previous charges, nor were the Nexen Heroes, Kang's former team in the Korea Baseball Organization. Kang's driver's license was revoked after his latest arrest.

Kang, 30, reportedly said in his appeal that not receiving a work visa would be "akin to a death sentence" for his career. According to The Associated Press, the court said Kang's suspended sentence -- rather than a court fine or a lesser form of punishment -- was "rational" due to his two previous DUI charges. The court also said it was unclear whether Kang had been denied a work visa due to the sentence or the crime itself, the AP reported.

Kang attended his hearing on Thursday but left without speaking to reporters, according to Yonhap. Kang will not have to serve time in jail if he avoids further charges over the next two years.

Kang has hit .273/.355/.483 with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs in 229 games for the Pirates, who signed him to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. The Bucs placed Kang on the restricted list on March 10.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.