Gonzalez, Kang Named Starters

Huntington says they are best defensive tandem

Jeff Hathhorn
March 18, 2019 - 9:49 am

© Kim Klement

BRADENTON, FL (93.7 the Fan) – Pirates general manager Neal Huntington announced third-baseman Jung-Ho Kang and shortstop Erik Gonzalez as regulars to begin the season.  That means Colin Moran, who started 110 games for the Pirates last year and 2015 first round pick Kevin Newman will be backups.

“Kang and Gonzalez are at this point and time our best defensive tandem and that’s a big part of why we went with this decision,” Huntington said.  “Kang’s power is a threat.  We still like Newman and Moran and believe they are going to be a big part of this club.”

“Not an easy decision, all four guys in their own way had legitimate claims to be the regulars,” Huntington added.  “We’ve let them know it’s not a 162 game set-in-stone decision, but we also let them know that these guys aren’t looking over their shoulders and this won’t be an every other game situation.”

Kang is returning to full-time status after drunk-driving incidents in Korea and has five hits this spring, all homers, for a .179 average.  Huntington joked at some point Kang will get a regular hit.  Moran has made four errors and hitting just .214.

Gonzalez came over in a trade from Cleveland this off-season, got off to a horrible start, but has seemed to settle down with four hits in his last two games.  Gonzalez has played in 162 career major league games with the Indians, hitting .263 with five homers and 27 RBI.  The 27-year-old is also under team control through 2022.

“Gonzalez and Kang will be given every chance in the world to hold onto these jobs, Moran and Newman will play important parts to this organization and this major league team, short-term, moderate-term and long-term.”