Mehno: Kang’s bad decisions cost him, Pirates


PITTSBURGH — Who knows where Jung Ho Kang went or what he did on that fateful night that ended with his arrest on DUI charges.

But wherever he went or whatever he did, it probably wasn’t worth $5.75 million.

That’s how much money would be guaranteed under his contract with the Pirates that will be voided if he can’t get a working visa to enter the United States.

There are conflicting reports about Kang’s work status. The Pirates know this much: He won’t be available for the opening of the season on April 3, and that creates some major roster and lineup problems.

Is he done for the season? Could he be approved sometime later?

Even if he clears the paperwork hurdle, there’s still no guarantee that MLB won’t impose some sort of penalty on Kang, who has three DUI offenses on his record.

If he has a drinking problem, it wasn’t apparent during his first two seasons with the Pirates. It’s a major problem now, as the Pirates have a big hole in a lineup that’s already short on power.

Kang could legitimately be counted on for 20 to 25 home runs over a full season. Of course, he can’t be counted on at all. There’s no way of knowing if he’ll be eligible, or when he might pass all the obstacles.

In addition to the money he’s possibly guaranteed over the next two seasons, the Pirates also hold a $5.5 million option on him for the 2019 season.

In Kang’s absence, the Pirates could use David Freese at third base. They shouldn’t use him too often, though. Freese is soon to turn 34 and his days as an everyday player are in the past.

Another option would be moving Josh Harrison back to third base, and covering second base with some combination of Adam Frazier and Alen Hanson. That comes with considerable risk.

Neither the Pirates nor Kang comes out of this in a positive way. At $5.75 million, it has the potential to be a very expensive night on the town.

Just watching

There’s a crisis in the NBA over stars sitting out some road games.

It’s a legitimate issue, and there’s no real solution.

LeBron James recently was given a rest from a game on national TV, and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers lost by 30 points. In another major TV game, the Golden State Warriors chose to rest Stephon Curry and three other starters.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently sent a memo to owners, suggesting they get involved in discussions about resting players. It’s one of those things commissioners do to pretend they’re concerned, but there isn’t an answer.

Players need an occasional game off. Coaches are unlikely to sit a player for a home game. So that means fans get to see LeBron sit on a folding chair for a couple of hours.

It’s undoubtedly a big disappointment for the ticket buyers, but what other choice is there?

At least take some consolation in the home team’s blowing out the LeBron-less Cavs.

Mehno can be reached at

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