Bucs to rest Kang, use him more at 3B

Hart's season over due to left shoulder impingement

Bucs to rest Kang, use him more at 3B

MILWAUKEE --- Jung Ho Kang played 117 games for Nexen last year, a typical workload in the Korea Baseball Organization's 128-game season.

Wednesday night, Kang played in his 111th game of a maiden Major League season that still has a hard month to go. Seeing Kang draw an error on one wide throw from short and not be able to flag down a couple of other grounders confirmed Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's suspicion the Rookie of the Year challenger needs to ramp down.

Since July 2, Kang had played almost daily (49 of 52 games) and mainly at short (32 of his past 36 starts) entering Thursday's game, a 5-3 loss to the Brewers. Both of those will change down the stretch.

With Jordy Mercer back in action, most of Kang's future starts will come at third base because, as Hurdle said, "there's more intensity when you play shortstop than third base."

"We're trying to find some down time for him, and third base is another option moving forward," said Hurdle, who must find a balance between using Kang's power -- Tuesday, he slugged his 13th homer, No. 9 since the All-Star break -- and preserving his "energy level."

"The man always tells you he is ready. My eyes, and various indicators, are telling me something different," Hurdle went on. "I do see a difference. I talk to people, to the players ... [Kang] wants to play, to compete, every day. But he also has got to be put in position to play well."

The difference to which Hurdle alluded is apparent in the field, not in the box. Since the midseason break, Kang has hit .315, with the nine homers among his 21 extra-base hits. His second-half OPS is .955.

Touching all the bases

• First: Corey Hart has been returned from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. Hart will not be activated, but will remain on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. He has returned home to Arizona. He last played June 21 before going on the DL with an impingement in the left shoulder.

• Second: Mark Melancon (55), Tony Watson (54) and Jared Hughes (50) are among the 18 MLB relievers who have had at least 50 scoreless appearances this season.

• Third: Entering Thursday, the Bucs had already turned 151 double plays; they had a total of 148 last season.

• Home: Aramis Ramirez's pair of three-run homers in the past week are two more than Pedro Alvarez has in the past year.

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.