Pirates infielder Kang attends trial for drunk driving

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2016 file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates' Jung Ho Kang rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis.  Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang has been left off South Korea's roster for the World Baseball Classic while he remains subject to a criminal investigation into allegations that he fled the scene after crashing a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang appeared in a South Korean court on Wednesday as judges heard arguments in a trial over charges that he fled the scene after slamming a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol.

A friend of Kang’s also attended the hearing at Seoul Central District Court after being charged for falsely telling police that he, not Kang, was driving the vehicle.

The court said it will make a ruling on both men on March 3. It’s not immediately clear when Kang will be able to join the Pirates for the new baseball season.

Prosecutors had sought to fine Kang 15 million won ($13,100) through a summary proceeding, but the court decided to hold a formal trial because it considered the charges against him to be serious, court spokesman Shin Jae-hwan said.

The Pirates have yet to decide whether to discipline Kang over the incident, which was the third time he faced drunk driving-related charges in South Korea. Kang was also left off South Korea’s roster for the World Baseball Classic as the team avoided players with off-field issues.

The 29-year-old Kang 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.

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 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 Kang’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash would have been 0.084 percent, beyond the country’s 0.05 percent legal limit, police said.

Lawyers representing Kang did not return calls for comment.