Infielder Jung Ho Kang still has not been granted permission to travel to the United States under a work visa, the Pittsburgh Pirates said Friday, and his status for Opening Day and beyond remains in doubt.
Kang has been delayed in his native South Korea by visa issues related to a DUI arrest in December.
"We continue to work with Kang and his representatives to present materials and information to the appropriate parties in the United States government that we believe establish that Kang should be permitted to travel to the United States under a work visa, and we remain hopeful that such a resolution will be reached in the near future," Pirates team president Frank Coonelly said.
Kang, who turns 30 two days after Pittsburgh's opener on April 3, hit 36 home runs in 229 games over his first two major league seasons. He signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Pirates in January 2015 after they agreed to pay about $5 million to South Korea's Nexen Heroes for his rights.
He received an eight-month suspended prison sentence earlier this month for the DUI, his third in South Korea. The sentence was suspended for two years, but that hurt his chances of getting a work visa to play in the majors.
"Your information is about the same as what I've got," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters earlier this week. "We are staying in contact with Jung Ho and in contract with his interpreter. We're focusing on the men we have here. That's the best I can tell you. We'd love to have him back, [but] we don't have him back. We're going to adapt and continue to pull [and see] if this can come to some type of conclusion that's profitable for both sides down the road."