Dunlap: Kang Situation Full Of Uncertainty

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I think I expected something different.

Something more certain; something with a lot more definition.

Man, was that vague and full of ambiguity because, well, that’s all the Pirates can say about the status of third baseman Jung Ho Kang right now. In truth, that’s the reality of the whole thing — uncertainty and doubt. And, man, is that a scary thing from a baseball standpoint.

When team president Frank Coonelly sat down with “The Fan Morning Show” at LECOM Park on Tuesday, the topic of Kang — still absent from Spring Training workouts — was obviously broached.

“We’re continuing to work with Jung Ho and his representatives to secure his work visa to travel into the United States,” Coonelly said. “The work visa issue has been complicated by the criminal matter in South Korea, but we’re diligently working with he and his representatives to try and get him a visa so he can get into the country as soon as possible.”

Not what I expected.

I expected something different — again, a clear and defined timeline, an expectation of sorts. I kind of expected Coonelly to say something wherein he had Kang on his way here by the end of this week or early next week — if not to participate in camp, into the United States at least.

[graphiq id=”fh9cVn24AtL” title=”Jung-Ho Kang” width=”600″ height=”556″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/fh9cVn24AtL” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/18654/Jung-Ho-Kang” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

And to be 100,000,000 percent clear, that isn’t on Coonelly.

None of it.

All of this is on Kang.

You see, Coonelly (an attorney by trade and downright good man in my eyes who has been exceedingly honest with me always) certainly would have offered a more clear-cut timeline for Kang’ return to the Pirates had he had one. Coonelly would have offered some insight as to when Kang, fresh off his conviction for his third DUI in Korea and seemingly stuck there now, could join his teammates and go through drills if the team president had one.

When Coonelly spoke those words on Tuesday and plainly just didn’t know about Kang’s status, it offered real understanding into the fact — for me at least — that maybe Pirates fans shouldn’t expect the man they expected to start the season at third base to be here anytime soon.

Maybe he won’t be the Opening Day third baseman.

Maybe Kang won’t be rubber stamped that work visa and be afforded the opportunity to travel here anytime soon.

Maybe Kang’s crime will seriously delay his development this season and lead to David Freese playing more than expected at third base at least through the early portion of the year.

So while one of the deepest questions heading into the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates has been, “Where will the power come from?” it appears this problem might have received another layer with what Coonelly said on Tuesday.

There is absolutely, positively no question Kang would serve to solve a bit of the problem with the Pirates’ lack of home run punch in the lineup.

But he must get here — and be in uniform — first to even have a chance to do that.

Before talking to Coonelly on Tuesday morning, I thought Kang traveling here in the immediate future and continuing his baseball career in the next week or so was a mere formality. But after what the team president said about the visa issues, I don’t think I’m so certain.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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