PITTSBURGH -- Pirates prospect Nick Kingham was pulled from his start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night after one scoreless inning in case he might be needed to start Tuesday night against the Cubs.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a sprained ligament in his right ring finger, just above his knuckle, after reporting discomfort following the game Thursday. Nova is the probable starter for Tuesday night's game, but Kingham could take his place if Nova is placed on the disabled list.
"We are working through a couple different scenarios," Hurdle said. "One of the options we're working through is a potential DL [stint] for Ivan. And that being the case, if that does become, Nick [Kingham] would be able to slide into his spot."
Nova said the injury first occurred while fielding a ground ball late in his start against the Tigers at PNC Park on April 25. He wouldn't blame his recent struggles on the injury, however, and said he still hopes to make his next start as scheduled.
"I like to take the ball every five days," Nova said. "It's got to be something real, real, real major that I say, OK. They know that I'm a competitor. I want to be out there."
In his last five starts since facing the Tigers, the 31-year-old right-hander has struggled on the mound. He's allowed 25 runs, 20 of which were earned, on 38 hits over 23 2/3 innings. The five starts resulted in four losses and one no-decision.
"It's not an excuse," Nova said. "It's got nothing to do with my finger. Like I said the other day, if you look at my starts, it's just one pitch all the time. If you're going to put the finger as an excuse, it's going to be something wrong every inning."
Kingham was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday to make room for Josh Harrison. He can only start Tuesday if Nova goes on the 10-day DL, as the Pirates can't recall him within 10 days of his optional assignment unless he is replacing a player being moved to the disabled list. In the event that Nova misses his start on Tuesday but doesn't land on the DL, Hurdle suggested they are exploring other options, including left-hander Steven Brault.
Friday was Kingham's first Triple-A appearance since May 9, as he was bumped to Double-A Altoona to make a May 14 outing that lined him up for his start last Saturday against the Padres at PNC Park. He pitched only one inning and did not return on Friday night, but it was not due to an injury.
Kingham, the Bucs' No. 12 prospect, has made three starts in the Majors this season. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his big league debut on April 29, beat the Brewers on May 4 and allowed three runs over six innings in a loss to the Padres.
Jameson Taillon will start in the series finale against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. After that, the Pirates currently have Chad Kuhl listed as the probable pitcher for Monday afternoon's series opener against the Cubs, followed by Nova on Tuesday night and Joe Musgrove on Wednesday night.