Little was known about this South Korean slugger back in late December when it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates had won the bidding for Jung Ho Kang and would get the opportunity to negotiate a contract with him. By mid-January the Pirates had signed Kang to a four-year, $11 million contract with an option for a fifth year.
Kang arrived at Spring Training in Bradenton to compete with Jordy Mercer for the short-stop starting gig and didn’t even know the language. This had all the makings of being a potential disaster for the Pirates. A foreign-born player who nobody knows all that much about coming in to challenge a fan-favorite for a starting position; it could have failed miserably for Kang and the team. Would the city be able to embrace Kang? There was only one way to find out.
Pittsburgh sports fans are serious about their teams, there’s no secret there. And there’s just a few things that can make this passionate fan-base turn on a player; one is them leaving for another city for more money and another is someone unfamiliar coming in and taking someone else’s spot. At this point of the season, after he’s been a part of MLB’s first 4-5-4 triple play, his leading the team in batting average (.313) and on-base percentage (.378) how could you imagine this season without Jung Ho?
After Wednesday’s come-from-behind win to sweep the Miami Marlins and before the team boarded their flight for the west coast, Kang answered some questions about how he’s adjusting to life in Pittsburgh. Kang enjoys girls, steak and hitting above .300. All he needs to do is add fries and coleslaw to that list and he’s an official yinzer.
And watch out ladies of Greater Pittsburgh, he’s single. I, for one, am gung-ho for Jung Ho. He’s exciting to watch and he’s one of the best additions Neal Huntington made this winter. I can’t wait to see what else the Summer of Kang brings.
Let’s go Buccos!