PITTSBURGH — With Jameson Taillon making his big-league debut against the New York Mets, I asked several other Pirates pitchers to share their what they remembered from their first appearance in the Majors.
Francisco Liriano is known as a starter, but he made his Major League debut with one inning of relief Sept. 5, 2005 for Minnesota against the Texas Rangers. It didn’t get off to a great start, as his first batter, Gary Matthews, hit a home run on a 3-1 pitch.
“It’s an exciting moment,” Liriano recalled. “You’re nervous and at the same time excited to be in the big leagues. It’s a great moment, something you can’t forget.”
He said there’s a bit of an extra excitement when the player coming up is a top prospect, as Liriano was in 2005 and Taillon is now.
“I think [the team is] excited to see him pitch,” Liriano said. “We’ve seen him a couple times in Spring Training, but it’s good to see him here. I wish him the best of luck.”
**Jared Hughes’ first outing for the Pirates came in relief against the Houston Astros back in September of 2011.
“I couldn’t feel my legs,” recalled Hughes. “I got a ground ball back to me and I was scared to throw it, so I ran it over to first base and underhanded it.”
For Hughes, he got to have his moment and then sit and reflect immediately, something Taillon won’t have the luxury of doing.
“I remember sitting in the dugout thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I just threw a pitch in the Major Leagues,'” Hughes said. “It was a lot of fun.”
**Cory Luebke made a September debut as well, starting for the San Diego Padres in 2010. He took the loss that day, giving up four runs in five innings.
“I think it’s one of those things, when you’re going through it, it’s a little nerve-wracking,” he said. “It’s cool and everything, but the first one can be a little hectic. I think once you get a few under your belt and realize that’s where you belong, that’s when it becomes a little more fun.”
Luebke has pitched alongside Taillon in Triple-A Indianapolis, and from what he sees, that transition should be an easy one for Taillon.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Luebke said. “He’s a mature kid. He’s got the stuff and the head, so he’ll be alright.”
Luebke doesn’t believe that Taillon’s will be the last Major League debut for the Pirates this season, either.
“Watching him and the whole rotation down there pitch, those guys are all going to be big leaguers, it’s just a matter of when.”
**Catcher Chris Stewart has caught “plenty” of first appearance over the years, and although Francisco Cervelli will perform those honors for Taillon, he’s still glad to see the young hurler get his chance to shine.
“This one is special,” Stewart said. “He’s come back from a lot the past few years, I know he’s been banged up. He’s going to be excited. I know [Cervelli] is going to be great with him. It’s going to be a special day.”
**Clint Hurdle had two Major League firsts: as a player in 1977 and then as a manager in 2002. He’s also overseen countless players making their entrance, and he said he always gives them the same piece of advice:
“Fear nothing, respect everything, and then just go play.”
Hurdle also noted Taillon’s debut isn’t just a big deal for the player, referring to the Pirates’ desire — and need — to develop top-flight talent from within.
“For Jamison, this is — from the age of five or six in the backyard, working, playing, growing up — a dream come true,” Hurdle said. “This is significant for [the organization] because it’s who we are, it’s what we do and it’s how we do it.”
**Taillon isn’t on a specific pitch count, but Hurdle said they would be cognizant of his innings.
**Neftali Feliz and Mark Melancon are both unavailable after pitching in both games of the doubleheader Tuesday. Tony Watson will likely take over closing duties.
**Pirates Officially Call Up Jameson Taillon, Option Curtis Partch to Indianapolis. The Pirates made a pair of roster moves this afternoon.
**Injury Updates: Starling Marte Still Sidelined; Ryan Vogelsong Begins Recovery. Pirates trainer Todd Tomczyk gave his weekly injury update.
**The Book on Jameson Taillon. Tim Williams wrote a preview of what to expect from Taillon.