Pirates' Kang 'progressing very, very well,' could be ready for Opening Day

Jung Ho Kang on the field prior to the 2015 NL Wild Card game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Jared Wickerham Getty Images

For the first time since his rookie season was ended abruptly with a broken leg in mid-September, word has come from the Pittsburgh Pirates camp on how Jung Ho Kang's recovery has been so far.

"He has checked every box medically that he can check right now. He's bored to tears," general manager Neal Huntington said. "This is an active guy who is dealing with a significant injury. He's progressing very, very well. He's in good spirits, and he's doing everything we could ask of him to get healthy and get better."

Kang's left leg was broken on Sept. 17 on a hard slide from Chicago Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan, which required him to have surgery that night.

Despite his sudden end to the season, Kang was a finalist for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, and finished third in the voting behind San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy and unanimous winner Kris Bryant of the Cubs.

The Pirates initially estimated that it would take Kang six to eight months to recover from the injury, which reserves the possibility that he'll be ready for Opening Day 2016.

While Kang still has plenty of time to go before the Pirates training staff and doctors clear him for baseball activities, his prognosis currently remains on track.

"We're still a ways away from having a better feel for when he'll be ready," Huntington said during an interview on KDKA-FM 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday. "But at this point in time, it's gone as well as we could have hoped."

In his first major-league season, the Korean infielder hit .287/.355/.461 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI in 126 games, starting 54 games at third base in addition to 49 starts at his natural position of shortstop.