Jung-ho Kang Runs the Bases, Might Run in Games Next Week (Exclusive Video)

BRADENTON, Fla. – Jung-ho Kang stood in to take live pitching today in a minor league game at Pirate City. The infielder went 1-for-4, but didn’t run the bases after any hits, which essentially made it a live batting practice session. Kang said through his translator that he’s trying to get his timing down at this point.

After the session, Kang went over to field three and ran the bases (exclusive video below), which is a significant step in his rehab. Running the bases is usually the final step before a player can return to the field from a leg injury. Kang said that he has now run the bases two or three times, so he’s progressing well. He said that “it’s getting better” in terms of how he feels after, but overall said the knee feels good.

As for when he might be able to get into games and run after hitting the ball, Kang didn’t need a translator after having the question translated for him.

“Maybe next week,” Kang said.

Kang would like to return by Opening Day, stating that this is his personal goal. However, Neal Huntington said that this wasn’t in their plans, and that they wanted to go a bit conservative with him after signing David Freese.

“We felt like it was the right move to make. Kang, we’re still projecting mid-to-late April. He wants to come back earlier. If he comes back mid-to-late April, then we’ve had David Freese at third base for a good chunk of time. If there’s a setback, then we’ve got an established Major League ready third baseman ready to step in for a longer period of time.”

“I’m working hard to get back as soon as possible,” Kang said, through his interpreter. “That’s my goal. I’ll attack it day by day and see how it goes.”

Kang looks like he’s close to getting into games. The challenge now would be building him up to be ready for the season. Everyone else has been playing games for three weeks now. If Kang started playing games next week, then he’d still have a long buildup to the point where he could play back to back full games, and the Pirates might take it slower than a player who isn’t coming off an injury. So you could probably expect him to still stick to that mid-to-late April timeline.

Here is exclusive video of Kang running the bases today, along with his lone hit:

https://youtu.be/_KoLrBOR38c

  • I didn’t notice him favoring his leg or limping, but he sure is tentative when he rounds 2nd & 3rd….Appears to be mental and I guess that’s expected at this point in the process. If I had to guess, I would say we will see him early May….They’re not going to rush this kid at all.

  • Kang’s still faster than me.

  • Watching this, I’m glad we signed Freese. This lad needs to take his time.

    • And Freese is also where everyone else was 3 weeks ago, so he will probably get some additional AB’s in games at Pirate City, as well as the MLB Games.

      I wondered why Morton only had 6 IP so far and evidently he has been sick and has done some throwing in the minor league games. However, unlike hitters like Freese who can load up extra AB’s, pitchers cannot load up extra innings.

  • I think end of April.

    • Great to see additional activity, but take one look at a healthy Jung-ho Kang swing and it’s blatantly obvious how far he still has to go.

      • Not to mention watching him run in that video…he showed he is favoring his better leg still. I know he is building up and just started running the bases so I’m not worried.

        • I wouldn’t worry at this point. Spring Training still has two weeks and a trip to the 15-day DL adds another two weeks minimum, so we are at least a month away from seeing him in a game in Pittsburgh. Look at the reports from a month ago to see how far he has got since then.

      • First day vs live pitching. He said his timing is off. So yeah, this makes sense.

        It’s like where everyone else was three weeks ago.

        • Tim, he didn’t even get halfway through his weight transfer. His legs aren’t close to being ready for big league competition.

          Think about Cutch last April, and he was swinging much, much better than Kang is right now.

      • Agreed. The biggest issue in my mind is that days on the calendar do not automatically correlate to daily improvements in Kang’s recovery. “Full” recovery may take a very long time or he may never fully recover his speed and agility or be free of nagging pain or discomfort. Kang is a thick muscular man and the knee has to be right for him to perform at his best. I believe one of the reasons Kang at shortstop is being emphatically ruled out by the organization is the potential long term impact of the injury. Kang’s injury was catastrophic, and the reality of his condition may be at odds with all the optimism.

        • Eesh. Check out Travis Sawchik’s twitter feed from today. I trust they know what they’re doing, but I’m surprised he’s even hitting against live pitching with the looks of those swings.

          Gonna take some time, for sure.

  • Pirates minor league bats are doing it again today. Boscan and Haley had terrible days, but the minor leaguers put up 7 in the last three innings to at least make it close.

    • Good to know the Pirates organizational filler is better than the Phillies. 😉

    • Quite impressive by the young guys putting up all those runs. I see Osuna is starting right where he left off this winter, mashing the ball!

  • So what happens if he is “healthy” by Opening Day but they still want to get him so more practice before they put him in MLB games? Would it be extended Spring Training or would they do some AAA Rehab Starts? Or could he be on the roster but not starting everyday and handling PH duties?

    • Probably extended ST. Maybe Altoona or Indy.

      • Do you think that they will wait until he can play a full everyday load, or would they maybe do alternating starts with another guy for a stretch to get him back in there sooner?

      • Why not let him stay south in Bradenton?
        Cold – rainy wether – slippery base paths…

        And guess who hit a HR today?
        Shame he gets no respect – yes it was off of Minor League guy – but the guy can hit.

        • Pedro Florimon and Matt Joyce also hit HRs.

          Perspective be everything. Respect and agreeing with one’s point of view arent synonymous.

        • Hmm..wonder who it was? Lets see…… not the no list guy? 🙂

        • If he was ready to play on April 7th when the minor league season starts, they would go with the team that is home. Very few rehab appearances include road trips and they probably would make sure it was home for a star player like him. Bradenton only has two home dates in the first eight days and Indianapolis opens the season on the road for a week, so he would play for Altoona if any team. They are home the first week.

          If they’re going to put him on the 15-day DL though, then no rush to move him from Pirate City, he won’t need 15 games to get back at that point, so it may end up being Indianapolis for a week after staying at Extended ST.

        • Was it Jose Osuna? Because he gets plenty of respect around here. And every time we mention him, we hear about how he gets no respect.

  • Yeah, that’s a player who’s still a long way from playing Major League Baseball games.

  • Not exactly TMZ material . . . 😉

    • Not really. But I was the only one who noticed it was happening, and quietly rushed over to get the video while we all waited to interview him when he was done with his “workout”.

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