Jung Ho Kang active for final series of season

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The Pirates announced that infielder Jung Ho Kang will be activated for the final three games of the regular season against the Reds in Cincinnati this weekend.

Kang, 31, has been out of action since 2016. In December 2016, he was arrested for driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of a one-car accident. It was Kang’s third DUI since 2009. Kang had also been investigated by Chicago police during the summer in 2016 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract for the remainder of the season and will get the prorated portion of his $3 million salary. The Pirates have a $5.5 million club option for next season with a $250,000 buyout.

If the Pirates planned to buy him out next year rather than pick up the club option, it wouldn’t make much sense to activate him for three meaningless games at the end of the season. The club may be trying to find out if he can be relied on next year. Infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer aren’t expected to be with the team next year. Kang could help fill those gaps. In 16 minor league games at High-A Bradenton and Triple-A Indianapolis, Kang hit an aggregate .310/.408/.517 with three homers and 16 RBI. He hit the Single-A pitching (1.406 OPS) but struggled against Triple-A competition (.572 OPS). Kang underwent a debridement procedure on his left wrist in August which was expected to be season-ending.

The Pirates’ decision to activate Kang and their potential decision to pick up the club option won’t be without controversy. Some fans will understandably not be pleased that an alleged abuser with three DUI’s has been brought back into the fold. The Pirates, though, are likely only considering the fact that he could be a productive infielder for the relatively cheap price of $5.5 million.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.