Dallas Braden will not travel to Japan for A’s opening series

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This season officially begins later this month when the A’s play a two-game series against the Mariners in Japan, but left-hander Dallas Braden will not make the trip with the team as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Braden threw 45 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday, but told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that “it would behoove me to stay here” and continue his rehab schedule uninterrupted.

Braden underwent surgery on May 17 of last season and according to Slusser the A’s are targeting mid-May for his return to the rotation, but he still has plenty of hurdles to clear first and has yet to throw off-speed pitches from a mound. There’s obviously a spot waiting for Braden in the A’s rebuilt rotation, but at this point counting on him for more than 20 starts is probably wishful thinking.

Jung Ho Kang granted work visa to re-enter the U.S.

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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa and will soon rejoin the Pirates. Kang had previously not been allowed to enter the U.S. after he was arrested for his third DUI in Seoul in December 2016.

There was some thought that Kang wouldn’t ever play for the Pirates again, but things have worked out in his favor. It will still likely be a while until he actually appears in a major league game, as he will need to get back into game shape and up to game speed.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said, “After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter the United States. We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the games he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.

As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”

The Pirates signed Kang as an international free agent out of South Korea to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. If he were to appear in the majors this season, he would earn a prorated $3 million. He has a club option for next season worth $5.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.