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Ex-Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang banned for year by Korean baseball

South Korea’s Korean Baseball Organization has suspended former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang for a year after a string of drunk driving incidents, including one he had as a Major League Baseball player.

The KBO suspended Kang on Monday after a disciplinary committee meeting. Kang has been arrested three times on suspicion of drunk driving. He must serve the suspension and complete 300 hours of community service before he is eligible to play again in the league.

“Over time, I came to realize just how important baseball is to me,” Kang said in a statement from Leeco Sports Agency. “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.”

Kang, 33, said he wants to return to the KBO after spending the last five seasons in the Pirates’ organization. Kang broke into Major League Baseball when he left the KBO ‘s Nexen Heroes in 2015.

His punishments won’t begin until he signs a contract with a KBO team.

The Kiwoom Heroes own Kang’s player rights and must take him off of the voluntary retired list before he returns to the league. He already filed for reinstatement. A Heroes official told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that it was “premature” to discuss Kang’s future with the club.

“Kang said he was extremely sorry to have caused trouble and that he would keep giving back to the community,” Kang’s attorney, Kim Sun-woong, told Yonhap.

Kang received his last DUI charge in 2016 in South Korea.

The 144-game KBO season started May 5. The 10-team league has drawn much more interest than in past years, due to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on sports leagues in the United States.

KBO games also have aired on ESPN as other leagues remain suspended.

Kang hit .169 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 65 games last season for Pittsburgh. He hit .287 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs in his first season with the Pirates in 2015. The team released Kang in August.

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