Torii Hunter is willing to take a reduced role going forward

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Torii Hunter is having his worst offensive season in over a decade and his defense is getting to be damn nigh intolerable. He now has a tight hamstring that has kept him out of action for he past eight days. J.D. Martinez, his replacement in right field, was just named the A.L. Player of the Week.

The writing is, therefore, on the wall. And Torii Hunter is reading it. From Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press, who writes about what will happen now that it appears Hunter is poised to come back to action:

“I will do whatever is best for the team. We’re back to hitting the right groove right now, firing on all cylinders. If that means I have to split time in the field — if that’s in the best interest to help us win — then I’m fine with that. When you get to this point in your career, it becomes a lot easier figuring out what’s most important to you. I want to win.”

When it comes to on-the-field stuff at least, Hunter has always said and done the right things. He moved off of center field in Anaheim when it was clear the Peter Bourjos was better than him defensively. He does not have a history of complaining about where he hits in the lineup or plays in the field. Of course, until this year he hasn’t been faced with a lot of those situations given that he’s been one of the more productive and durable outfielders in all of baseball.

But now things are different. Hunter turns 39 next month and it’s likely that this year’s dip in performance is the new normal, not some temporary slump. He can certainly still be useful to a contender like the Tigers, but Brad Ausmus will have to give him rest and pick his spots in which to play him. Maybe way more against lefties, for example.

Interesting times for a guy who, as recently as last year, was still putting up pretty darn good numbers. Now we’ll see how he takes to a reduced role.

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.