Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang, who hasn't played in the major leagues since 2016 after his third DUI arrest in South Korea that offseason, has been reinstated from the restricted list, returning him to the team's 40-man roster. The team optioned Kang to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he had been playing after a recent promotion from Class A Bradenton.
Kang received an eight-month suspended prison sentence in March 2017 after he left the scene of an accident in Seoul on Dec. 2, 2016. A friend of Kang's originally said he was behind the wheel, but police later found out Kang had driven the car. Kang had a blood alcohol content of 0.084. The legal limit is 0.05.
The suspended sentence left Kang unable to receive a work visa to return to the United States for the 2017 season.
Kang finished third in the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year voting after becoming the first native South Korean position player to make the jump from the Korea Baseball Organization to the major leagues. He hit .287 with 15 homers in 126 games that season, and then .255 with 21 homers in 103 games in 2016.
Kang received a work visa in April and issued a statement apologizing to his family and friends as well as to the Pirates' franchise, players and fans.
In his first public comments on June 6, Kang said he has been sober since his third DUI arrest.
"Obviously, I'm not touching a drop of alcohol moving forward," Kang said through his interpreter Mark Kim.
In four games at Indianapolis, Kang is hitting .067 in 15 at-bats. In seven games with Bradenton, Kang hit .417 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said there is no timetable for when Kang might be called up.
"He needs to play games," Hurdle said. "He needs to have a real spring training."
As part of his return to the U.S., Kang is not allowed to drive, and Kim will serve as his driver. Kang also is taking part in MLB's substance abuse program.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.