CHICAGO – Not only will Chicago Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan return to Wrigley Field for the first time this season on Friday, but he’ll also be on the same baseball diamond as Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang for the first time since ending his season last September with a hard slide into second base as Kang was trying to turn a double play.
“I already saw he was healthy and back,” Coghlan said recently. “I think it’s great for him, his team, his country. I couldn’t be more happy he’s back and helping them.”
Losing Kang was huge for the Pirates last year, and that’s evidenced by what he’s done this year. He already has nine home runs in 102 at-bats after hitting 15 before going down last season. After the takeout slide, which tore the MCL in his left knee, neither the Pirates nor Kang expressed much anger at Coghlan, a player the Cubs reacquired a week ago from the Oakland Athletics. The slide was considered hard, but not dirty, though a rule change after several more incidents would probably deem it illegal this season.
“I’m old school,” Coghlan said. “I love the way the game was played. I grew up that way. At the same time, I’m not so hard-headed I’m not against change. I think the rule has brought some good change. There were a lot of times guys would take some unnecessary shots. I would like it (the rule) cleaned up and be more specific. I do like some of the areas they’re going for, but I’d like it more specific than it is now.”
The Cubs and Pirates played each other several times after the injury, including in the NL wild-card game last October, but the Pirates never exacted any revenge, so it seems like the incident is over and done with. Coghlan didn’t think there was a need to seek out Kang this weekend.
“I don’t know him,” Coghlan said. “I’m probably not going to do anything different.”
As for the new rules, Coghlan wouldn’t mind some clarity or a return to the old ways.
“It’s just how we do things,” he said. “We have to react to everything.”