"Jung Ho Kang is playing nine innings of third base at Triple-A," said Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk. "He continues to show physiologically good signs of recovery. He continues to meet the demands of the rehab."
Kang was 3-for-20 (.150) with a home run, three runs scored and three RBIs in his first six games.
"It's his second time he's gone back-to-back games," Tomczyk said. "If we go the same plan as we used last week, he's available as a pinch-hitter that third day."
Kang's rookie season ended with left knee surgery to repair a fracture to his tibial plateau and damage to the lateral meniscus sustained on the receiving end of takeout slide at second base on Sept. 17 against the Cubs.
"The video that we've watched, the reports that we're getting from our performance team in Indianapolis -- he's recovering well, physiologically," Tomczyk said. "And that allows him to move forward, allows us to take the next steps back to what he ultimately wants to do, and that's get back up here and help this team win."
Tomczyk cited a striking lack of precedent to use as a reference for recovery expectations, comparing Kang's injury to one sustained in a car accident.
"We have a good idea of how the body responds, how long it takes for bone to heal, how long it takes an ACL," Tomczyk said. "That's medical knowledge that's out there. Anybody can get that. But when you couple a traumatic automobile accident -- then for you and I to come back, to walk and talk and travel, yeah. We can do it no problem. But then you put in professional skill that he has, and he's part of 10 percent of the human population that get to where he's at, that's throwing in a whole different dynamic.
"That's when we rely on all our resources, mental conditioning, strength conditioning, physical therapy. We continue to throw the entire gamut at him to give him any and every resource possible to help him get back to the level where he wants to be."
In other rehab news:
• Catcher Elias Diaz (right elbow strain) threw to the bases Wednesday for the second consecutive day.
"We're going to see how he comes out of that and responds to the physiological load of throwing on two consecutive days, and we'll move forward as indicated," Tomczyk said.
• Jared Hughes (left lat muscle strain) made his fourth rehab appearance on Wednesday, throwing two innings of three-run ball.
"Jared continues to check all the boxes off," Tomczyk said.
• Cory Luebke (right hamstring tightness) started his rehab assignment last Thursday and has made two relief appearances, allowing three runs over four innings.
"Cory Luebke is going to continue to get opportunities in Indianapolis to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen," Tomczyk said.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.