Court hands Kang a suspended jail term

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean court has handed Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang a suspended two-year prison sentence for fleeing the scene after crashing a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The sentence handed down Friday by the Seoul Central District Court was a heavier punishment than the 15 million won ($13,000) fine prosecutors had sought, but still clears the 29-year-old Kang to join the Pirates for the new baseball season.

Kang was twice previously fined on drunk driving-related charges in 2009 and 2011. He is in the third year of a four-year contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2015 after a stellar eight-year career in South Korean professional baseball.

The Pirates have yet to say when they expect Kang to rejoin the team or whether he will be suspended. Kang was left off South Korea’s roster for the World Baseball Classic which starts next week.

Kang hit 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games in 2016, but his second season in the majors also included an incident in Chicago in June when a 23-year-old woman said she was assaulted by Kang at a hotel. The woman’s name has not been released and Kang has not been charged.

According to police in the latest auto incident, Kang did not stop after driving a rented BMW into a guardrail at about 3 a.m. while returning to his Seoul hotel in December. The crash damaged the guardrail and the car, and police said Kang’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash would have been 0.084 percent, which is above the country’s 0.05 percent legal limit.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.