Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Pirates third baseman Jung-Ho Kang was in court in South Korea today to face DUI charges. He admitted to them in court and threw himself on the mercy of public opinion afterward, speaking to Yonhap News:
“I deeply regret what I have done. If I can get one last chance, I will become an exemplary player to earn respect from everyone.”
Kang will be sentenced on March 3, which is a week from Friday. Pretrial proceedings involved talk of a $13,000 fine, but the judge can do whatever he wants. It would seem that Kang will be in South Korea at least until then. He and the Pirates have also spoken of a treatment program. All of which, taken together, suggests that it will be some time before Kang joins Pirates spring training, where full-squad workouts began last Friday.
Pirates President Frank Coonelly announced today that the team doesn’t expect third baseman Jung-Ho Kang to report with the rest of the team’s position players by Friday due to his DUI trail which gets underway on Feb. 22 in Seoul. Kang was arrested in December following an accident in which he fled the scene.
Coonelly says the team “will continue to do whatever we can to assist (him) and his representatives in their efforts to resolve all necessary matters so that Jung Ho will be able to travel to the United States to prepare for and play in the 2017 season.”
This was Kang’s third DUI arrest.