By Jason Shetler
The Pirates may have suffered a significant blow during Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs as Jung-Ho Kang looked to sustain a serious knee injury when Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan slid into second base to break up a double play. Whether the play was dirty can be debated, but either way the Pirates could lose Kang for an extended period or even the remainder of the season.
Kang of course has been very productive in his first Major League season, as his .816 OPS is the second highest mark on the Pirates this year. Not to mention his defense at third base has been above average. With a leg injury to Jordy Mercer during the first series after the All-Star break in Milwaukee, Kang was given regular playing time at shortstop, and was named the National League Rookie of the Month for July in the process.
Ironically, the Pirates had signed Kang last offseason to serve as infield depth with the intention of playing off the bench as a rookie. Following a thumb injury to Josh Harrison in early July, the Pirates went out and brought back Aramis Ramirez. With the way Kang and Ramirez were performing, they had the luxury of using Harrison on the bench as a super utility after he returned from the disabled list. As devastating as the Kang injury could be, the Pirates are very fortunate to have Ramirez and Harrison as capable replacement options.