Share This Page

Pirates' top pitching prospect Taillon faces Tommy John surgery

| Sunday, April 6, 2014, 1:18 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pitcher Jameson Taillon will undergo Tommy John surgery ending his 2014 season, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington announced Sunday, April 6, 2014. Taillon, the club's top pitching prospect and No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, had dealt with elbow discomfort this spring and had sought multiple opinions on how to proceed.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' top pitching prospect, will have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2014 season.

Pirates top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon will have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2014 season, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday.

Huntington said multiple medical opinions confirmed Taillon's ulnar collateral ligament is intact but “compromised.” A period of rest failed to bring the right-hander any symptom relief, leading to the decision for reconstructive surgery.

“Based on all the information that Jameson was presented with, he opted to have the Tommy John, and we fully support it,” Huntington said. “Typical recovery time is 12 to 18 months, and we're looking forward to getting him back on the mound.”

Dr. David Altchek will perform the surgery in New York, but as of Sunday afternoon a date had not been set, Huntington said.

Taillon, 22, was shut down during spring training after he pitched in a minor league game and woke up the next morning with pain in his right elbow. An initial examination and MRI by team doctors showed no ligament damage. Taillon visited Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles for a second opinion March 31.

Huntington said while Tommy John is no longer a rarity, it also isn't a bulletproof solution. Because Taillon doesn't have an outright tear, the decision was not automatic.

“As we walked through the process with Jameson, educated him, he's a smart young man and we walked through it with his family and representatives,” Huntington said. “He felt this was the best course of action to get back to full health and stay healthy a long time.”

The second overall pick in 2010, Taillon was expected to begin the season with Triple-A Indianapolis and eventually make his way to the Pirates this season. He was 4-7 with a 3.67 ERA in 20 outings for Double-A Altoona and 1-3 with a 3.89 ERA in six starts with the Indians last season.

Charlie Morton had Tommy John surgery midway through the 2012 season and returned to big league action June 13, 2013, just one day shy of the one-year anniversary of the procedure.

Morton said he plans to reach out to Taillon to share some words of advice and encouragement.

“(I'll tell him) that this is going to make him better,” Morton said. “Obviously, it's going to make him feel better physically, and the challenge is going to make him better because he's a hard-working, intelligent young man. It's really a shame, but I think he's going to come out of this a lot better.”

Closer Jason Grilli had Tommy John surgery in 2002 and said his heart goes out to Taillon.

“There's a lot of work ahead of him. Probably more patience is the tougher part of it (because) baseball's going on without you, but he's young,” Grilli said. “He's a highly touted prospect, and people know what he's capable of doing. He's just got to put in the work, and I think he's going to come back better. It'll be worth the wait.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.