Jameson Taillon is planning to make a full recovery from Tommy John surgery, the second such procedure of his professional career, which began when the Pirates selected him No. 2 overall in the 2010 MLB Draft.
But the path back wasn't easy.
Speaking with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Taillon opened up on the struggles he faced last season with his injury, his surgery and his journey back to the mound.
" ... last year I felt completely useless," Taillon said. "Like, I would do cardio and get some treatment and that was my day. There was really nothing I could do. So that really sucked. Last summer was probably the worst year of my baseball career."
There are several factors at play here. Taillon did pitch a bit in 2019, going 2-3 across seven starts with a 4.10 ERA. After his May 1 outing against the Rangers, however, Taillon was shut down with elbow pain and evaluated. The decision to opt for surgery, when the severity of the injury was discovered and the Tommy John procedure was performed, didn't come until mid-August.
And that three-month window is when Taillon struggled the most.
"Even before the surgery, [I was] just sitting around not being able to really feel like a part of anything," Taillon said. "And our team had a tough summer, too, since stuff kind of unraveled on us. And I just had to sit there and kind of watch it happened. So that sucked. But once I was able to start throwing again, it got way, way, way better for me."
But Taillon is throwing now, with some new arm action nonetheless.
First time throwing 4X in a week. Feeling strong, and moving right along in the process 💪 Enjoying every step of this rehab journey, and learning tons along the way! pic.twitter.com/Ef2IVG24hk
— Jameson Taillon (@JTaillon19) May 7, 2020
That said, sitting around and watching the Pirates collapse en route to a 69-93 record while knowing there was nothing he could do weighed on Taillon's mind.
"I think I got hurt, like, May 6, let's say," Taillon said. "That's when I really got shut down. And I didn't get my surgery until August. So I was around our team for three months not being able to throw but still having to be a good teammate. And that's really hard. I'm super thankful our team kind of gave me the reins, like, 'Hey, if you want to watch guys' bullpens, do it. But if you want to go home, do it. Just get your work in and you can kind of choose."
Then came the surgery and some tosses from Taillon, and all that negativity began to evaporate.
"But I noticed it got a lot better for me this year once I could start throwing," Taillon said. "Once I started throwing this spring, I had some of my teammates come out and watch me throw or guys would ask to play catch with me. I started getting to do PFP again, and I felt at least like I was a baseball player ... Even before the surgery, just sitting around not being able to really feel like a part of anything. And our team had a tough summer, too, since stuff kind of unraveled on us. And I just had to sit there and kind of watch it happened. So that sucked. But once I was able to start throwing again, it got way, way, way better for me."
Taillon's first Tommy John surgery came back in April of 2014. He also underwent surgery for testicular cancer in May of 2017, making his first rehab start just three weeks later before totaling 25 starts in the 2017 season. Taillon followed that with his best season to date, a 14-10 2018 campaign that saw him post a 3.20 ERA/1.178 WHIP/3.46 FIP in 32 starts.
Now, Taillon has yet another hurdle to overcome, but from the sounds of this recent interview, he's in good spirits and fully prepared for the challenge ahead.
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