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Pirates notebook: Taillon takes next step in process

| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 9:09 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
1979 World Champions Dave Parker and Rennie Stennett talk in the Pirates dugout before a game against the Orioles on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Center fielder Omar Moreno acknowledges the crowd with the rest of the 1979 World Champion Pirates before a game against the Orioles Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at PNC Park.

The great draft debate of 2010 began with the No. 2 overall pick. The best players available to the Pirates were Manny Machado, the top position prospect remaining in the draft, and Jameson Taillon, the top pitcher.

On Wednesday at PNC Park, Machado started at third base for the Baltimore Orioles. As a 20-year-old last season, Machado was an American League All-Star. Taillon is waking at 6:15 a.m. every day this spring to begin rehab treatments in Bradenton, Fla., after Tommy John surgery.

Wednesday marked an important day in the progress of Taillon, who if he rehabs successfully, figures to be an important part of the Pirates' pitching staff in the second half of 2015 and beyond.

“(Wednesday) is the six-week mark,” Taillon said. “I start doing a bunch of shoulder care (Wednesday), which is when the true arm rehab really, really gets going.”

The physical rehab is trying.

“Getting that range of motion back in your arm definitely isn't the most comfortable feeling I've ever gone through,” Taillon said.

But the mental grind of rehab, being far from teammates and the competition of a regular season, is perhaps more difficult.

To ease the mental lulls of rehab, Taillon purchased a rehab pet, a Pogona lizard, commonly called a bearded dragon, which he has named Francis “TJ” Underwood, a nod to the main character from “House of Cards.” Taillon also has begun working on another project: He's compiling a cookbook.

“I've put a lot of time into researching my health and diet. How to shop properly, what to buy, and what to cook with. I've already lost 8 pounds just by cleaning up my diet,” Taillon said.

“People always talk about coming back stronger from Tommy John. I don't think it's just the surgery — that might have something to do with it — but I can already tell by the weight program I've been put on, and the cardio program, the arm care program I've been put on, those three things have me feeling extremely strong. You take into account that I'm cleaning up diet and that will pay a dividend in the end.”

Grilli could be back Saturday

Pirates closer Jason Grilli (oblique) completed back-to-back days of simulated games Wednesday without issue. Grilli pronounced himself ready to face major league batters and pegged Saturday as a potential date to return from the disabled list.

“(Saturday) is a realistic possibility,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The fastball velocity was of good quality.”

Martin not far behind Grilli

Pirates catcher Russell Martin (hamstring) caught another bullpen, went through on-field drill work and also took batting practice Wednesday.

“He is of the opinion that he feels better than he did in coming into spring training,” Hurdle said. “He's definitely getting very close. He's expressed feelings that he's good to go.”

'79 Pirates take the field

The Pirates honored their 1979 team prior to Wednesday's game. This year marks the 35th anniversary of its World Series title. Twenty members of the team were honored on the field before the game, including Dave Parker, who has Parkinson's disease.

“It's a good feeling being back with these guys because the camaraderie we had then, and even today was special,” Parker said.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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