Jameson Taillon will avoid Tommy John surgery, but his 2019 season is a wrap.
Speaking with media Friday at PNC Park, Pirates trainer Todd Tomczyk offered the following:
"The recommendation from Dr. Altchek is to have surgery," Tomczyk told media at PNC Park before the Pirates' 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Mets Friday. "The pre-op diagnosis would be to address the injury to the flexor (elbow tendon). Once that surgery happens and is scheduled — which it's not as of right now, it will be in the coming days — we will provide details of the procedure performed and the appropriate rehab timeframe."
Taillon has been on the injured list since May 2, when he was diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow. While many felt surgery was inevitable from the jump, the team took its time gathering the facts to make the correct call for both Taillon's long-term and short-term health.
According to Tomczyk, the situation did not drag on unnecessarily.
"We all, including all the experts that he [Taillon] did see, felt that we could salvage some of the season, that he could return this year," Tomczyk said. "And you always want to avoid surgery at every cost if you're a professional athlete, because there are no guarantees."
In 2012, Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis had surgery on his right elbow flexor tendon, which could provide a useful framework for a recovery timeline. Unfortunately, Lewis also suffered other injuries — including a hip injury — during his recovery, lengthening his return.
Tomczyk also added that even if a benchmark did exist for the procedure, it's difficult to draw comparisons from person to person.
"There's isn't [a typical timeframe]," Tomczyk said. "It's very player-specific and player-dependent and position-dependent."
As a final layer, Tomczyk added that, with the situation in the pre-op stages, there is still potential for additional or alternative work being performed.
"It is always the surgeon's discretion," Tomczyk said. "Once they get in the operation, they may see something. They will examine and identify all the other structures involved in the area that's being addressed. And if something needs to be addressed, that's something that the patient and the organization have to consent to prior to (surgery). That is very standard procedure."
Taillon previously had Tommy John surgery in 2014, delaying his MLB debut until 2016, then had surgery to treat testicular cancer in 2017. All that considered, Tomcyzk says Taillon remains confident and upbeat after this latest diagnosis.
"From my perspective, he's very upbeat, he's very encouraged," Tomczyk said. "I think we all know what he's been through, and if I'm betting on a guy to come back from another surgery, it's Jameson Taillon."
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