PITTSBURGH -- Jung Ho Kang, the trailblazing rookie from South Korea who quickly worked his way into the Pirates' lineup and into the hearts of the team's fans, will take his bows alongside his teammates tonight.
Kang will take his rightful place during player introductions prior to the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser (8 p.m. ET on TBS), joining the other players as they line up on the third-base line.
Except, when his name is called, Kang will have to roll out in the wheelchair that is his temporary seat following his Sept. 17 surgery for a torn meniscus and a displaced tibial plateau fracture in his left knee.
The reaction to Kang's first public appearance since suffering the injury in the first inning of the Bucs' Sept. 17 afternoon game with the Cubs will be loud and emotional. The shortstop-third baseman quickly gained a reputation as one of the Bucs' hardest-hitting and most clutch hitters in clubbing 15 homers and driving in 58 runs while batting .287 in 126 games.
Since the visiting team is announced first in such ceremonies, the man who sent Kang into that wheelchair, Chicago outfielder Chris Coghlan, will be watching from the first-base line as he rolls out to thunderous cheers.
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.