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Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang had a suspended two-year prison sentence upheld in a South Korean court Thursday, which will further complicate his efforts to rejoin the MLB team during the 2017 season.
The Associated Press (via USA Today) reported the Seoul Central District Court denied Kang’s appeal after he asked for a reduction in punishment. The conviction on fleeing the scene of a crash and driving while drunk has prevented him from re-entering the U.S. based on visa issues.
In December, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported it was the third DUI-related issue involving Kang since 2009. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington admitted the team was unaware of the previous arrests before signing the infielder in 2015.
“We didn’t uncover it,” he said. “It will be a part of our process as we go forward in terms of how do we help him? How do we get him back on the right track? How do we help him become not only a very productive player but a quality man as well?”
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick passed along a statement from the 30-year-old South Korea native.
“I’d like to apologize to everyone who is disappointed with me,” Kang said. “Today, I got behind the wheel after drinking and committed an irrevocable mistake. I panicked at the moment of the accident and did something that I never should have done. I am deeply regretting the incident. I will humbly accept whatever punishment is deemed fit for my actions.”
Sung Min Kim of River Ave. Blues noted in late March reports in South Korea confirmed Kang wasn’t granted a visa to enter the U.S. for the current season.
Kang posted a .273/.355/.483 triple-slash line with 36 home runs across 229 games with the Pirates in two seasons. He remains under team control through the 2019 season.