Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates Spring Training 2015 Transition Begins in Earnest for Kang Korean Shortstop Ready to See How He Fares in Majors

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates Spring Training 2015 Transition Begins in Earnest for Kang Korean Shortstop Ready to See How He Fares in Majors

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. - Turns out Jung Ho Kang is wondering the same thing as everybody else.

Regarding his 2014 season in the Korea Baseball Organization, where he hit 40 home runs with a .356 average and a .459 on-base percentage, Kang said, "I'm also curious about how it's going to translate into here. . Hopefully I can hit the same here, as well."

The 27-year-old Korean shortstop, who joined the Pirates this winter on a four-year, $11 million contract after the team paid a $5 million posting fee to negotiate with him, had been in camp for several days before today's reporting date for position players. As for the questions his arrival created - How will his offense translate? Where will he play? What does this mean for Jordy Mercer? How will the first professional Korean hitter to jump directly to the major leagues fare? -- he doesn't yet have the answers.

"I'm feeling a little bit of pressure, but at the same time I want to do well so that I can open up the market for other KBO position players to come here," he said in Korean, with Jae Woong Han, an employee of Kang's agency, Octagon, translating.

Kang began playing baseball at around 11 years old. He said if he knew about Major League Baseball growing up, and specifically the attention paid to strength training, he might have become a better player and hit for more power. Odd, considering he hit at least 22 home runs each of the past three seasons for the KBO's Nexen Heroes and has not had a slugging percentage of less than .400 since 2008.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Korean left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu before the 2013 season, they increased the exposure of MLB in Korea. Ryu's starts are broadcast there, followed by a highlights package, and Kang - pronounced GAHNG - watched most of those games.

Kang began thinking about wanting to be posted, or offered to MLB teams through a blind auction process with the highest bidder's fee going to his former team if he signs, near the end of the 2014 season. …

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