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Suspended sentence opens door for Kang

MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jung Ho Kang received a suspended sentence on Thursday for driving under the influence in his native South Korea. But even with the legal process complete, questions remain regarding Kang's availability.

Kang pleaded guilty to his latest DUI charge, his third in Korea since 2009, and the Seoul Central District Court levied an eight-month prison sentence that will be suspended for two years, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jung Ho Kang received a suspended sentence on Thursday for driving under the influence in his native South Korea. But even with the legal process complete, questions remain regarding Kang's availability.

Kang pleaded guilty to his latest DUI charge, his third in Korea since 2009, and the Seoul Central District Court levied an eight-month prison sentence that will be suspended for two years, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

The suspended sentence means Kang is effectively on probation for two years, and any transgression during that time period will result in Kang having to serve his eight-month sentence. If he avoids further legal issues for two years, he likely will not have to serve any time.

Video: Rosenthal talks Kang's legal issues in South Korea

Kang has not yet received his work visa, according to a statement released by Pirates president Frank Coonelly.

Kang previously agreed to a treatment program recommended by the joint MLB panel, which evaluated him following his arrest. His participation will be considered a "mitigating factor" in the disciplinary process, but it remains unclear if Kang will be punished by MLB or the Pirates.

"Now that Jung Ho's legal case in Korea has concluded, we will continue to work with him and his representatives in an effort to secure his work visa so that he may resume his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates," Coonelly said on Friday. "We look forward to meeting with Jung Ho as soon as he is able to travel to the United States and having a serious discussion with him on this issue and how he has and will change those behaviors that led to the very serious punishment that has been levied against him in Korea.

"We will withhold judgment on what club discipline, if any, is appropriate until we have had an opportunity to have that discussion. We will also withhold from further comment until we have an opportunity to meet with Jung Ho. Regardless of our decision on the disciplinary issue, we will do everything that we can as an organization to assist Jung Ho as he works to change his behavior and grow into the man that we know he can be."

Whenever Kang joins the Pirates, he will be their everyday third baseman and bat in the middle of their lineup. Last season, Kang batted .255/.354/.513 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs in 103 games. He finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2015.

"I really don't know how that [visa] process works out," manager Clint Hurdle said Friday. "We'll provide every bit of support we can for him when he gets here and help him be the best player he can be on the field and be the best guy he can be off the field."

Kang is signed to a four-year, $11 million deal with two guaranteed seasons remaining and a $5.5 million club option for 2019.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jung Ho Kang