PITTSBURGH — When Pirates right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon made his first rehab start Sunday in Erie, many fans were surprised that he was back in action just 20 days after undergoing surgery to treat testicular cancer.
You can count Pirates general manager Neal Huntington in that list. Huntington spoke to the media in Pittsburgh hours after Taillon threw three scoreless innings in Erie. Even then, Huntington seemed genuinely surprised how far into his progress Taillon has come.
“You think about, just a short time ago, what was going through the process for Jameson, to get back out there today and throw three innings and 47 pitches and to have velocity get to 95 and hold it into his third inning, to have the breaking ball that he had, to be able to move his fastball around the zone, it just continues to be a remarkable story,” Huntington said.
He said that once the team was alerted to the Taillon’s diagnosis, no one was even considering a return to pitching this season.
“It wasn’t even a thought at that point in time when he was going to pitch again,” Huntington said. “The thought was about everything that he was going to be facing going forward and how do we help him go through this process the best way we can for him. Again, it wasn’t even a thought. As things progressed and we got the surgical report, knowing what was coming next and how the markers would come out, pitching was the last thing we were thinking about.
“We kept our fingers crossed and are hopes and prayers are that he’s going to continue to get good news. Truth be told, it will always continue be that way as he continues to work through this. Once we began to have him play catch again and actually think about being a pitcher, from my perspective, you look at where he is today, it’s incredible. We’ve still got some really good days and probably some really hard days ahead of us.”
Taillon doesn’t seem to mind surprising people with his quick return to action. In fact, he’s glad he’s been able to get back on the mound and back to being himself quickly, even if he recognizes that’s not the way many would have done it.
“I honestly think this is going to creep some people out that I’m back so quick,” he said. “But this is safe. It’s healthy. It’s not a major surgery. They didn’t cut through any muscle. I feel good. I think it’s the right thing to do. It just depends on the person. There’s a protocol for Tommy John surgery. There’s a book on it. People do the same thing. For something like this, everyone is going to react differently. There’s no playbook for it. This is our path.”