BRADENTON, Fla. – Jung-ho Kang took another big step in his rehab today. Kang played in the field at third base today in a minor league game at Pirate City, which was the first time he has played on the field in a live game since his surgery. He went five innings, and made a play at third to close out the fifth inning, charging a slow chopper and getting the runner at first for the out (pictured above).

Kang wasn’t perfect on the field, missing a close ball earlier in the game, and didn’t look the smoothest on the play in the fifth, but it was a good step for him to finally get out there.

“It’s good,” Kang said through a translator after the game on how his fielding felt. “It’s not 100% yet, but it’s good.”

He was limited to defense only today, and didn’t take any at-bats. He’s still not to the point where he can hit and run out of the batter’s box in a game. Previously, Kang had been hitting during intrasquad games, but it was glorified live batting practice, as he didn’t run after hitting.

Kang ran the bases after today’s game, going from home to second, and first to third. This is also not new, although it looked like he was going with a little more effort and making sharper cuts around the bags. Kang said that he’s responding well to the running, and that he’s feeling good with his progression.

The Pirates have continued to say that Kang won’t be ready to return until mid-to-late April. At this point, he looks good enough to play five innings on the field, but he’s not to the point where he can hit and run the bases yet. When he combines the two, he will then have a process of building up his innings, eventually getting to the point where he can play two full games back-to-back. Based on his progress today, it looks like he’s still on pace for that mid-to-late April return.

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  1. Ok, its official, we have lost 19 spring training games.
    More than any other MLB team. Only consolation,
    is the cubs have lost 17.

    When does panic set in?

    • Not panic, but concern. The lineups are not representative of what the lineups will look like next week, and we will actually try to close out games where we have the lead, but our hitting still has to be a major area of concern. Lots of moving parts though in that Freese is trying to get 10-12 AB’s a day to catch up, Kang is still rehabbing, and Jaso, Joyce, & Rogers are trying as best they can to get comfortable in a new environment.

      I believe that ‘Cutch, Marte, Cervelli, and Morse are close to ready for the regular season, but we need a lot more from 2015 regulars Polanco, Harrison, and Mercer in 2016 for this team to contend in the NL Central.

      • I think the most “concerning” thing you can pull from this ST is that it sure seemed the *back half* of games, when prospects take over for Major Leaguers, is when the Pirates were clearly most competitive.

  2. We should start claiming other team’s starting pitchers – maybe they’ll give them to us, like we give them away

  3. Much as I would like to see him sooner rather than later it looks like he is 3-4 weeks away to my untrained eye. Still think keeping him in Bradenton for a week to 10 days to avoid bad weather makes sense…

    On another note – the Orioles are supposed to be interested in Matt Joyce – wonder what they have in the pipeline that the Bucs might be able to steal for him…

    • Unlikely PGH actually gets anything remotely interesting in a trade.

      You only move Joyce to avoid the assignment bonus you’d have to pay him/because you dont want him as the 4th OFer on OD. Which would mean crappy leverage on our end.

      • If they don’t intend on keeping him, then they will take anything for him just like the O’Flaherty trade. The point is to find somewhere for a player to get a chance without holding him in the minors because no one would give you a good return. Free agents take notice of that sort of thing and word gets around, making it easier to sign better players. On the flip side, holding players back has negative effects, because word gets around.

        If the Pirates aren’t keeping him, and the Orioles will, then the deal will likely be cash considerations, which as I pointed out yesterday, can be as little as $1, and that’s really just to close the transaction because you can’t loan/give players to another team anymore.

          • No, I’ve only heard it mentioned a few times that deals can be for as little as $1. In almost all cases, the amount is so insignificant, it’s better to not insult the player by putting it out there. I don’t think a player would want a transaction attached to his name that says “xxx was sold to the Pirates for $1” when there are probably hundreds of unannounced deals that fall into that same category.

    • If the Pirates get rid of Joyce, who is one of only 1-2 real bats that they have on the bench, yet keep guys like Rodriguez, Rogers, and Figueroa on the 25 man roster, than this FO has lost their minds….

      • Rogers is a tough one because of the price they paid for him. It’s like cutting a high draft choice that you paid a lot of money to. Oh wait, that’s what they gave away for Rodgers. Supak (2nd round) and Broxton (3rd round)

  4. Great news – his bat is badly needed, as we still have major question marks offensively at first base and third base….

    • We have questions at first base offensively? Jaso had 136 wRC+ last year. Better than any current pirate not named ‘Andrew’

      • Yeah, agree. First is probably not an area of concern. His bat’s clearly an upgrade over any current alternative, but if Freese can produce well enough for a month, it won’t be vastly different in the long run.

      • When he does that in a Pirates uniform, I will be convinced….until then, he’s a question mark in my mind….

      • BTW, Jaso is hitting .203 this Spring…I know the games don’t count, but I assume he is trying to get hits….

        • …and an OBP of .395. He’s not trying to get hits, he’s trying to get on base and he’s been doing a bang up job so far.

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