Friday night marked the winter debut of Jung-Ho Kang, who is playing for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican winter league. Kang batted fourth in the lineup and played third base.
In his first three plate appearances, Kang was facing Esmil Rogers, a 32-year-old right-hander, who has seen Major League action over the course of seven seasons. It was a fairly strong test for his first game in over a year, although they have been playing exhibition games leading up to the season opener.
Kang struck out in his first at-bat. He reached on an error his next time up, grounding to third base. Kang gave his team a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly. He popped out to first base in the seventh inning against Jonathan Aro, who has had two brief appearances in the majors with the Red Sox and Mariners.
In the eighth inning, Kang batted with the bases loaded and his team up 5-2. He singled up the middle, driving in two runs off of pitcher Kevin Lenik, who is a big, hard-throwing righty. Lenik made the jump directly from Low-A to Triple-A this season and put up a 1.88 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
On defense, Kang had three grounders hit his way and committed one error. With the game well out of hand, he left in the ninth for a defensive substitution. He finished 1-for-4 and drove in three runs.
I’ll note that Aguilas Cibaenas tweeted out that Edwin Espinal came in as a defensive substitution at first base in the bottom of the ninth inning, but as of late last night, the boxscore doesn’t show that switch. Whether he played or not, the first baseman didn’t have any fielding chances in the ninth, so no big deal if they missed it.
In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. After a strong start, he’s hitting .438 with hits in all four games this season.
In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk. He is 5-for-11 through three games.