Kang (side) resumed hitting in the batting cage with no restrictions this week and has also been taking part in throwing and fielding drills, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday that Kang will hit on the field at some point during the upcoming days. That activity would mark the final step in Kang's recovery process before he would gain clearance to begin a minor-league rehab assignment. Given Kang's immense struggles at the plate prior to suffering the side injury, the Pirates may keep the 32-year-old on the farm for an extended stretch rather than rushing him back onto the active roster after a couple of rehab games.
Kang was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday with a strained left side, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. This explains why Kang is out of the lineup against a left-hander (Robbie Ray) Monday. According to Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic, the veteran third baseman will be shut down for at least three days before being reevaluated, after which a timetable for his return will hopefully emerge. Jake Elmore was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Kang's place on the roster.
Kang went 0-for-3 against Texas on Wednesday and is hitless in his last 20 at-bats. He does have four hits in nine career at-bats against Thursday's starter Michael Wacha, but his 2019 start has proven disastrous. He's striking out at a 32 percent clip in 87 at-bats and has fallen off defensively. Still, Kang remains the team's eighth-highest paid player ($3 million) and won't likely be designated for assignment anytime soon. The third baseman is slashing .138/.211/.310 with four home runs in 95 plate appearances.
Kang is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Athletics. Kang finds himself on the bench for the fourth time in five games in favor of Colin Moran, who seems to have usurped him as the Pirates' top third baseman. Each of Kang's recent four benchings has come against right-handed starting pitchers, suggesting he's stuck in the short side of the platoon.
Kang went 0-for-4 and made a pair of errors in Friday's 14-1 loss to Oakland. His slash line is down to .152/.212/.342 with four homers and eight RBI. Kang has whiffed a whopping 28 times in 79 at-bats. He also appears to be on the verge of developing a case of the yips, double pumping before he throws to first base. After leading the Grapefruit League with seven homers, the third baseman's fortunes have fallen. It wouldn't be surprising to see Pittsburgh start Colin Moran more frequently at third base with Kang spending time on the bench.