Prince helms Bucs with Hurdle at Baylor funeral

Bench coach, manager discussed lineups, strategy leading up to Toronto series

Prince helms Bucs with Hurdle at Baylor funeral

TORONTO -- Tom Prince has spent 34 years in professional baseball, 24 of them as part of the Pirates' organization. Friday was his first day in the big league manager's office.

With Clint Hurdle attending Don Baylor's funeral services, Prince took over as Pittsburgh's acting manager at Rogers Centre. Hurdle is expected to return for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays.

In the meantime, Hurdle's temporary absence creates an opportunity for Prince. During his 17-year career playing in the Majors, Prince occasionally thought about eventually becoming a manager. He moved closer to that goal when he was named the Bucs' bench coach last October.

"Exciting," Prince said. "We've talked about some things. We've set some things up, and we'll continue to move forward. That's what Clint always talks about."

They set up the starting lineups for this weekend after Thursday's game in Detroit, for instance. What else? A managerial line of succession.

Dave Jauss will serve as the bench coach and would theoretically be the next man up if Prince is ejected. After that, the job would fall to third-base coach Joey Cora, first-base coach Kimera Bartee then hitting coach Jeff Branson. That level of preparation, Prince said, is one of the things he's come to learn from and appreciate about Hurdle.

"You're always learning. It's non-stop," Prince said. "To think that far ahead wasn't part of the thinking in the Minor League system, in my mind. He's amazing at that facet of the game."

Standing alongside Hurdle during every game, Prince is already familiar with the in-game decision-making process. He's also had to take over the three games from which Hurdle was ejected this season. In that regard, the only thing different about Friday was his seat in the manager's office.

"I will do the exact same things I tell Clint during the course of a game," Prince said. "Jaussy and I will talk about it. A decision will be made, then boom, we'll be on to the next play."

Hurdle on Baylor's passing

Around the horn
• Left fielder Starling Marte did not start Friday night, and Gregory Polanco was in the lineup as the Pirates' designated hitter. Prince said he and Hurdle decided both outfielders could use a day off their feet. Adam Frazier got the start in left and hit leadoff, and John Jaso started in right.

• Friday was the Pirates' first game on artificial turf since a three-game series at Tropicana Field from June 23-25, 2014, ending a stretch of 523 consecutive games played on grass. This is the Bucs' first trip to Toronto since June 28-30, 2011.

• Right-hander Nick Kingham, the Pirates' No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, threw his first career complete game on Thursday for Triple-A Indianapolis. Kingham allowed one run on two hits, struck out eight and needed only 85 pitches to get through nine innings.

Top Prospects: Kingham, PIT

This is the 25-year-old Kingham's first full season following Tommy John surgery in May 2015. He is 7-6 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 16 appearances (15 starts) for Indianapolis. He has given up three runs in 30 2/3 innings over his last four starts, all victories in which he's tossed at least seven innings.

• The Rangers claimed right-hander Jhan Marinez off waivers on Thursday. The Pirates designated Marinez for assignment last Saturday and effectively replaced him with reliever George Kontos. Claimed off waivers in May, Marinez posted a 3.18 ERA in 24 relief appearances for Pittsburgh.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.