The Pirates have three .300 hitters as of Saturday afternoon. One is in Indianapolis (Tony Sanchez), another is a jack-of-all-positions reserve guy (Sean Rodriguez) — then there’s Jung Ho Kang.
Easy to forget Kang was an early-Spring Training casualty. Three weeks into the Grapefruit League, he was 3-for-27 (.111) with 11 strikeouts. From that point on, he hit .333 in exhibitions, and is at .300 in-season.
Kang got hot in Spring Training after he stopped talking to reporters. But he’s been back to his affable self since the season began. In fact, he gave me a “What’s up, Tom?” in perfect English just the other day.
So it’s not like the media was a bad influence and, once free from that, Jung Ho started hitting. So how come he caught on so quick?
“He pays attention, and is very confident in his own skill set,” Clint Hurdle says. “He also is realistic; he knows challenges he is facing. He knows he has to practice at a faster pace and hit balls pitched faster and with more spin. The guy just has a very big desire, and a high level of commitment to not let anything get in his way.” …
So there he is, in tonight’s lineup against he Cards:
- Polanco RF
- Walker 2B
- McCutchen CF
- Marte LF
- Alvarez 1B
- Kang 3B
- Cervelli C
- Mercer SS
- Worley P
Expect Kang to stay in there tomorrow, too, but at short, with Josh Harrison back at third. …
In addition to his 0-for-20-breaking single, Harrison also lined into a couple of hard outs Friday night. To some players mired in slumps, making hard outs just makes matters worse.
“I’ve seen guys come back to the bench with boo-hoo lips,” said Hurdle.”It can also work the other way, where they think, ‘Okay, that’s what I’m looking for. If I can do that seven of 10 times, I’m heading in the right direction.”
Hurdle sees Josh as an Example B type.
“He believes, ‘Today’s the day I get rolling, and be the kind of player I was last year.’” …