New York Daily News

Taillon ready to take mound for Yanks after series of setbacks


When Jameson Taillon takes the mound on Wednesday night, he’s not looking back. It’s not that the 29-year old does not appreciate where he’s come from and what he has been through. Taillon has felt every ache and pain and each emotion of going through Tommy John surgery, going through cancer and then having to go through a second elbow surgery. He’s been at the top as a first-round, second-overall draft pick out of high school and he’s fallen to the low of not knowing if his body would ever allow him to do this again.

So Wednesday night, when Taillon makes his debut in pinstripes, the first time he takes the ball since May 1, 2019, the righthande­r will only be looking ahead.

“I’m 29. You know I’m not going to be a 100 WAR pitcher. I’ve come to grips with all of that; the stuff you’re drafted and you dream of, like win 20 games for 15 years straight and stuff like that, but I’m happy to be here,” Taillon said. “I do feel like there’s a lot ahead of me. For being a 29-year old, I’ve had injuries but I do feel like I’ve got a lot of great innings ahead, and I feel like outside of the elbow, I feel like my arms got a ton left to give. I’ve saved a lot of things on the body over the years. So there’s guys like the guy I got to know pretty well in Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton, who’s made the most of the back end of his career, never stopped learning and went out and kind of reinvented himself.

“So that’s a guy I kind of want to model myself after,” Taillon said.

The Yankees traded for Taillon this past winter just hoping he could give them a solid veteran No. 3 starter to help lengthen a rotation that was Gerrit Cole and a lot of question marks. He comes in with a career 3.67 ERA and 3.55 FIP and was once, along with Cole, considered the future of Pirates pitching. Instead, Taillon’s career has been interrupte­d.

Taillon battled testicular cancer in 2017 and had his first Tommy John surgery in 2014. It took months of struggling with his elbow in 2019 to realize he needed another surgery.

“I’d say the lowest point was actually, once I got hurt in 2019 before I got my surgery just being a player being in that middle ground where I didn’t feel like any progress was being made. I was really frustrated,” Taillon said. “I didn’t know whether I needed surgery or whether I didn’t need surgery. I tried ramping up to throw a couple times and it didn’t go well and the elbow didn’t respond well.

“So that’s like the ultimate low point where you have those doubts, in the back of my mind,” Taillon said. “I’m well aware of what the history for a two times Tommy John guy is. There are some guys in the big leagues who’ve done it but I want to be one of the positive statistics.”

The Yankees are very aware of the risk they took in trading for Taillon. They have managed his workload carefully this spring and already skipped him the first time through the rotation to give him more time to ease back in. Tuesday night, they started Cole on regular rest after his Opening Day start and then slid Taillon in after him.

So, Taillon is anxious to get back out on the mound and move forward.

“I’m sure there’s gonna be some nerves. I’m pretty familiar with getting those though,” Taillon said. “I had never pitched at Yankee Stadium or anything like that but I’ve pitched in front of some big crowds and stuff so I know how to handle that and use that to my advantage.

“But yeah, I mean, there’s definitely going to be some feels, more than anything it’s just all positive emotion,” Taillon said. “Just really grateful to have a second chance at this, really grateful that my elbow feels good. I wasn’t so sure a couple years ago that I would ever be on this stage again. So I’m just embracing all that.”

 ?? AP ?? Jameson Taillon, who has dealt with injuries and cancer, starts for Yankees tonight against Blue Jays at Stadium.
AP Jameson Taillon, who has dealt with injuries and cancer, starts for Yankees tonight against Blue Jays at Stadium.

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