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Pirates opt for Kingham to remain in rotation

Rookie set to face Brewers after stellar Major League debut
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Nick Kingham's very good weekend got even better on Monday when the Pirates announced the right-hander would remain in the rotation and make his next start on Friday against the Brewers.

"We had two different plans drawn up, and that was one of the plans we had drawn up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We felt that if he pitched competitively to his skill set and gave us a chance to win the game, that we'd like to give him the ball another time."

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WASHINGTON -- Nick Kingham's very good weekend got even better on Monday when the Pirates announced the right-hander would remain in the rotation and make his next start on Friday against the Brewers.

"We had two different plans drawn up, and that was one of the plans we had drawn up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We felt that if he pitched competitively to his skill set and gave us a chance to win the game, that we'd like to give him the ball another time."

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Kingham did that and more on Sunday, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and finishing with nine strikeouts in his Major League debut, a 5-0 victory over the Cardinals. Therefore, the Pirates decided to keep Kingham in the rotation and send Steven Brault back to the bullpen -- for now.

"There's no promises after that based on the three off-days between [May] 7 and 14," Hurdle said. "We have to prioritize our rotation moving forward. That's a large volume of off-days within a week."

Video: STL@PIT: Kingham discusses his almost perfect debut

Kingham felt as if he done enough to warrant another start, but he was still nervous in the immediate aftermath of his impressive outing.

"I thought I helped my chances, 100 percent," Kingham said. "I still didn't know what they were going to do. It is a business and they have to do what's best for the club -- I understand that. But I'm glad I got it. I feel like I earned it, so I'm glad they gave it to me."

As for Brault, who struggled to a 4.97 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in his five starts, he'll try working things out in a relief role, where he made a three-inning appearance against the Tigers on March 30 in his only non-start of the season.

"There's some things he can sharpen up while he's out there," Hurdle said. "The ball-to-strike ratio, the walks-to-strikeouts, the pitch efficiency are things that can be improved, and he can help us win games here."

Around the horn
Starling Marte was not in the lineup on Monday for the first time this season after starting 28 straight games.

While Marte entered the series hitting safely in 10 of his last 11 games against the Nationals, he was just 1-for-9 in his career against starter Tanner Roark, though Hurdle said that didn't play a role in the rest day.

Video: Must C Comeback: Pirates walk off the Cardinals in 11

"That doesn't scare you off," Hurdle said. "He's played every game. And he played the doubleheader; he played the day game after the night game twice. So, just giving him a rest."

Enny Romero, who was scheduled to be designated for assignment on Sunday before revealing a left shoulder impingement and being placed on the 10-day disabled list, said on Monday that he still wanted to contribute to the bullpen after his rehab stint.

"Right now, my focus is getting my shoulder healthy and making sure I come back the best pitcher I've been, and making sure I'm doing what I have to do so that this team can keep me here," Romero said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez.

Hurdle said the last-minute reveal of an injury wasn't rare, and once the team found out, it went through the proper channels to place Romero on the DL.

"Sometimes players don't tell you things that you'd like to know, but you find out maybe after another decision has been made," Hurdle said.

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington, D.C.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Brault, Nick Kingham, Starling Marte, Enny Romero