Kang having visa trouble in SKorea

The Associated Press

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pittsburgh infielder Jung Ho Kang was placed on the restricted list by the Pirates while he’s delayed in South Korea by visa issues related to a recent DUI arrest.

Pirates’ president Frank Coonelly made the announcement on Saturday.

“It just is a reflection of the reality that he’s not here today on March 11, and we need to get him into Bradenton to prepare for the 2017 season,” Coonelly said. “A member of the restricted list doesn’t count against (the 25- or 40-man rosters) so it provides us some flexibility at this point.”

Kang received an eight-month suspended prison sentence last week after a DUI arrest in December, his third such arrest in South Korea. The sentence was suspended for two years.

“This is not a disciplinary matter,” Coonelly said of the restricted-list transaction for Kang. “And if he is not here and not available to play on a restricted list, he wouldn’t be paid — but it’s not a disciplinary matter.”

Coonelly said the Pirates “still (have come to) no conclusions” on if they plan on levying any punishment on Kang. In a statement released after Kang was sentenced March 3, Coonelly said the team would “withhold judgment” until they were able to meet with Kang in person.

“(We) still want to sit down and talk with Jung Ho face-to-face before making any determinations on discipline,” Coonelly said.

Coonelly did not provide a timetable for when he expects or hopes the visa issues can be resolved.

“(The restricted-list move) is neither a statement of pessimism or optimism that Jung Ho will get back in time to report to Bradenton and prepare to be ready to go for Opening Day of the 2017 season,” Coonelly said. “It says nothing on that topic.”

Kang, who turns 30 three days after opening day on April 6, hit 36 home runs in 229 games over his first two major league seasons. He signed a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015 after the Pirates secured his rights from a South Korean league team, for whom he was a star player.

David Freese is Pittsburgh’s third baseman in Kang’s absence.

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