My plans to get a first in-person look at Jung Ho Kang today turned into a frustrating adventure.
I spent an hour circling the sprawling Surprise Baseball Complex, by car and foot, trying to attend the Nexen Heroes’ workout, and found all access roads closed. Since I didn’t have my MacGyver kit with me … no go. All I got to see was a bunch of white uniforms through an outfield fence.
Better luck tomorrow (the Surprise facility staff was off on Sunday, presumably contributing to the lockdown feel).
Meanwhile, here are some Kang bits from the Heroes’ first preseason workout, as relayed by Jeeho Yoo, the impressively thorough reporter for Yonhap News:
- In addition to the four-year $11 million contract, Kang got a challenge from Buccos GM Neal Huntington: “Huntington told me I have to win the battle (for shortstop), and with the top players around, I am obviously going to try to win it. It’s going to be fun. I think the key is how well I can adjust (to the new surroundings).”
- Kang is aware of the important cultural role he is about to play for the future of Korean baseball: “As the first position player to make it here from the KBO, I think I am a pioneer of sorts. I would like to do well here and open up big league opportunities for younger players at home.”
- Not only have the Pirates given Kang permission to train with his old KBO club until he reports to Pirate City next month, but he is also doing so in his old Heroes uniform.
- In their joint KBO careers, Kang was only 6-for-34 against Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers, but did homer in Ryu’s Korean swan start. If you want to circle your calendars: Dodgers at Pirates, Aug. 7 in PNC Park, is their first potential MLB meeting.