Mercer ready for Kang’s challenge


JordyMercer2BRADENTON, Fla. — Jordy Mercer‘s Twitter feed blew up Tuesday night after free-agent infielder Jung-ho Kang fired a shot across the bow during a press conference at Incheon Airport in Seoul.
Kang is on his way to Pittsburgh to finalize a contract with the Pirates. Including the posting fee, the Pirates seem ready to commit at least $21 million for a four-year deal. For a budget-conscious club like the Pirates, that’s a lot to pay for a potential bench guy. Kang, 27, was a power-hitting shortstop for the Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization. With the Pirates, he might be used at short, third base or second base.
“If I get an opportunity to play consistently, I think I can play better (than Mercer),” Kang told the Yonhap News Agency. “I think I’ll have to talk to the team about my position, but I’d like to play shortstop.”
Mercer, 28, hit .255/.305/.387 last season, his first as the everyday shortstop. This week, he is attending the voluntary winter workouts at Pirate City — and is the only 2014 starting position player who is at minicamp.
When I asked Mercer this morning about Kang’s comments, Mercer gave me a knowing smile.
“It’s good to see he’s got confidence coming in,” Mercer said. “All of us can use that, for sure. If we all set our sights on one goal and have confidence in our ability, the sky is the limit for this team. So, it’s exciting to see it.”

— RB