SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — Beleaguered major league infielder Kang Jung-ho has been giving free youth clinics and donating equipment, while his playing career remains in limbo, a source close to the player said Thursday.
Kang remains without a work permit to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, having received a suspended sentence over drunk driving charges earlier this year.
Kang has kept a low profile while training on his own in South Korea, and the source said he’s recently visited four different regions in the South Gyeongsang area, in the southeastern part of the country, to work with young players.
The source said the local baseball association in the city of Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, contacted Kang about leading clinics. Kang also donated baseball equipment to youth teams in the area, the source added.
The Pirates have placed Kang on the restricted list, which is for players who are unable to play for non-injury reasons, such as arrests or family matters. Kang will not be paid or earn major league service time while on this list.
Last December, Kang fled the scene after crashing into a guardrail on his way to his hotel in southern Seoul. Kang’s blood alcohol content level was 0.084 percent. The legal limit is 0.05 percent.
The DUI arrest was Kang’s third in South Korea. His driver’s license has since been revoked under the three strikes law.
He received an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, in March and lost his appeal two months later.
The suspended jail term means Kang will avoid actual prison time if he stays out of trouble over the next two years, but he’d hoped the court would reduce the punishment to a fine and open the door for him to re-apply for the U.S. visa.
He’d filed for the visa prior to the initial court ruling in March, but his application was rejected by the U.S. Embassy here.
Kang had been an All-Star shortstop for the Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization before joining the Pirates for the 2015 season. He finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting that year after batting .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 126 games. Last year, the South Korean had 21 homers and 62 RBIs, along with a .255 batting average in 103 games.