Pirates trying to pace Kang's workload

Pirates trying to pace Kang's workload

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even at his current status as a part-time starter, Jung Ho Kang is on pace to appear in 118 of the Pirates' games -- one more than he played in 2014 as one of the Korean Baseball Organization's marquee stars. Adjusting Kang to Major League Baseball's 162-game schedule -- in contrast to Korea's 128-game slate -- is one of the Bucs' main projects, and it continued Tuesday with his absence from the starting lineup against the Giants.

Kang's primary impression of big league ball can probably be captured in one word: more. More games, more intensity in those games, "just the magnitude of everything," manager Clint Hurdle said.

"He's pulling a big wagon behind him," Hurdle added, alluding to being the focus of an entire nation. "Every once in a while, we need to give him a break, sit him down, so he doesn't have to pull that wagon."

Another reason for the sit-down: After his majestic home run in the first inning of this road trip, Kang entered an 0-for-14 lull.

"He hit a bomb in Petco [Park, against the Padres], and since there's been some tough sledding," Hurdle noted. "He's seen a lot of spins [breaking pitches] and well-located fastballs. After a hundred at-bats, there's enough tape so teams know the hot spots you want to stay out of."

Touching all the bases

• First: No. 2 Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon, recovering from Tommy John surgery, appears close to resuming competitive pitching after his three-inning stint "without issues" Tuesday in extended spring camp. Taillon delivered 41 pitches, some in the mid-90s.

• Second: Chris Stewart's three doubles Monday night raised his season total to five -- one more than he had all last season; he was the first Pirates player with three two-baggers in a game since Ronny Cedeno in 2010.

• Third: Between them, Francisco Cervelli and Stewart have grounded into two double plays in 187 at-bats, the lowest rate among the Majors' 30 catching units (the Royals are the high with nine, and the Cards top the NL with eight).

• Home: Indianapolis second baseman Alen Hanson, the converted shortstop, was honored as May's International League Player of the Month, exactly a decade after the last Pirates Triple-A player to get the award -- lefty Zach Duke, in May 2005.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.