Kang abandons KBO comeback


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Jung-Ho Kang. -- DKPS

After months of speculation of if he would return to the Korean Baseball Organization, it turns out that there will be no homecoming for Jung-Ho Kang.

The former Pirates infielder said in an Instagram post Monday that he is withdrawing his request to return to the KBO.

Kang and the KBO have been under scrutiny since late May, when the league suspended him for just one season after his drunk driving arrest in December 2016. That was the third time he was arrested for drunk driving, which normally carries a three year suspension by the KBO. However, that rule was established after Kang's arrest, so the league decided to use the old guidelines instead.

The Pirates, and the general public, did not know about Kang's first two arrests until the third one.

Kang, 33, held a press conference last Tuesday in Seoul to apologize for his past transgressions, but his detractors questioned the sincerity of his apology. After some more public backlash, he decided to abandon the comeback.

Reports circulated that Kang wanted to return to the league in late April. He requested that his old club, the Kiwoom Heroes, take him off the "voluntarily retired" list shortly after the league issued its suspension, but that bid only lasted about a month.

"I realized too late that my greed was a burden for baseball fans, [the] KBO league, [the] Heroes club, and fellow baseball players," Kang said in the Instagram post.

Kang played for the Heroes from 2006-2014, where he established himself as one of the best players in the country. In his final year in the KBO, he batted .356 and hit 40 home runs while also winning his fourth gold glove.

The Heroes decided to post him that offseason, and the Pirates shocked the league when they outbid everyone for the right to negotiate with him. Kang would end up signing a four-year deal with the Pirates, where he made an immediate impact. He finished third in the National League rookie of the year voting in 2015 and hit 21 home runs in an injury-shortened 2016 campaign.

However, he had trouble securing a work visa after his drunk driving arrest, and he missed the entire 2017 season and all but the final series in 2018. He signed a one-year deal with the Pirates before the 2019 season, and while he did provide power, homering 10 times in 185 plate appearances, he struck out 60 times and hit just .169 before being released on Aug. 4.

Kang signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers shortly after his release but never played in the majors with them.

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