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Hurdle: Bucs 'intend' to call Kingham for debut

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Nearly eight years after he was drafted, Nick Kingham is set to make his Major League debut.

Kingham, 26, is expected to make his first start for the Pirates in Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at PNC Park, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday. Tuesday's rainout and Wednesday's doubleheader created the need for a spot starter on Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed Friday afternoon that the Pirates "intend" to call up Kingham, the club's No. 13 prospect, but would not officially name him the Sunday starter.

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PITTSBURGH -- Nearly eight years after he was drafted, Nick Kingham is set to make his Major League debut.

Kingham, 26, is expected to make his first start for the Pirates in Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at PNC Park, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday. Tuesday's rainout and Wednesday's doubleheader created the need for a spot starter on Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed Friday afternoon that the Pirates "intend" to call up Kingham, the club's No. 13 prospect, but would not officially name him the Sunday starter.

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Kingham, who had been scheduled to start Saturday for Triple-A Indianapolis, was the most logical option considering he's lined up to pitch this weekend and already has a spot on the 40-man roster. Hurdle admitted on Wednesday the Bucs would not make Sunday a bullpen game, which effectively ruled out the possibility of Tyler Glasnow coming out of the 'pen to start.

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It has been a long road for Kingham, the Pirates' fourth-round Draft pick in 2010 -- the same year the Bucs selected Jameson Taillon second overall. Kingham reached Triple-A in 2014 and was on the brink of the Majors in '15, but his progress was derailed that May. He underwent Tommy John surgery and didn't return to the mound until July 2016.

Kingham was delayed by a sprained ankle last spring before ultimately returning to Triple-A. He made 19 starts in Indianapolis, going 9-6 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. The Pirates didn't call him up in September, however, even when it was believed that Kingham was on the verge of exhausting all of his Minor League options.

Kingham was granted a fourth option year this season, allowing the Pirates to send him back to Triple-A. But the Bucs made it clear that he would be ready to help their rotation at some point this season. And Kingham made it clear he was ready for the call.

"I definitely think so, especially because I've played against a lot of these guys throughout the Minor Leagues," Kingham said near the end of Spring Training. "I know where I stack up against them. I feel comfortable and confident that, yeah, I can come out and definitely get the job done if need be."

In four Triple-A starts, Kingham is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. The Las Vegas native will face Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver in his debut. It's unclear what will happen after that.

Kingham could return to Indianapolis after his debut, if it is just a spot start, or the Pirates could shuffle their rotation to clear a spot for him. The Bucs moved lefty Steven Brault out of the bullpen to start earlier this season, when it became clear that rehabbing right-hander Joe Musgrove would need more time to recover from a shoulder muscle strain.

Around the horn
• The Pirates likely will decide Musgrove's next step within the next day, Hurdle said. Musgrove threw a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday and said he felt good afterward. The Bucs could choose to have Musgrove throw another simulated game, or his next outing could be the start of a Minor League rehab assignment.

"Everything's trending up," Hurdle said.

• Reliever Bo Schultz, a non-roster invitee this spring who is now 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery, was promoted on Friday from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Triple-A Indianapolis. Schultz, a 32-year-old right-hander with 51 games of Major League experience, allowed only two hits over 10 2/3 scoreless innings in eight appearances for Bradenton.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham