Plenty of recognizable names leaving MLB for Japan in 2011

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I’ve written a lot of words this offseason about Tsuyoshi Nishioka signing with the Twins and Hisashi Iwakuma failing to sign with the A’s after their Japanese teams “posted” them, but the list of MLB players heading in the opposite direction is pretty interesting too.

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and Fan Graphs has all the details on former major leaguers going to Japan and it’s an amusing list of washed-up former stars (Chan Ho Park, Chad Tracy, Byung-Hyun Kim), top prospect busts (Bryan Bullington, Joel Guzman, Wladimir Balentien), and role players who for whatever reason never seemed to get any traction in MLB (Micah Hoffpauir, Rusty Ryal, Jonathan Albaladejo).

Newman also notes that both Kaz Matsui and Akinori Iwamura are returning to Japan after spending a combined 11 seasons in MLB.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.