Free agent infielder Jung-ho Kang, who played four of the past five years for the Pittsburgh Pirates, on Monday received a one-year suspension from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in connection with three past arrests on suspicion of drunk driving.
The KBO also demanded that Kang, 33, perform 300 hours of community service.
Both punishments would begin if and when he signs a contract with a Korean team.
After the ruling was announced, Kang said in a statement that he is working to become a better person.
“Over time, I came to realize just how important baseball is to me,” Kang said. “I took putting on a uniform and getting on the field for granted, and I was a fool not to see how precious that was. I know I don’t deserve to be saying this, but I would love one final opportunity to play baseball.”
Yonhap news agency reported that Kang could have been banned by the league for up to three years based on its strict rules against driving under the influence (DUI).
Kang’s DUI cases occurred in August 2009, May 2011 and December 2016, Yonhap reported.
The third case, for which he received a suspended two-year sentence, wound up keeping Kang out of the entire 2017 season and most of the 2018 season with the Pirates.
He was initially unable to get a visa to return to the US due to his criminal record.
Kang broke into the major leagues with the Pirates in 2015, and he finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .287, a .355 on-base percentage and a .461 slugging percentage, with 15 homers and 58 RBIs in 126 games.
The next year, he hit .255, a .354 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage, with 21 homers and 62 RBIs in 103 games.
He went two for six in three games late in the 2018 season. Last year, he batted .169, a .222 on-base percentate and a .395 slugging percentage, with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 65 games.
Kang began his pro career in the KBO, playing for the Hyundai Unicorns (2006-2007) and the Woori/Nexen Heroes (2008-2014).
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