Pirates’ Jameson Taillon placed on injured list with elbow injury
What first merely just felt “a little different” in Jameson Taillon’s right arm during spring training ultimately culminated in a trip to the injured list for the Pittsburgh Pirates opening day starter on Saturday.
What has been diagnosed as an elbow flexor tendon strain will prevent Taillon from throwing for about a month.
“I’d just been kind of fighting with the idea of I’ll manage it on my own until it gets, hopefully, better (and) then I won’t have to bring it up,” Taillon said Saturday. “But if it gets worse, you know I have to hit a point where I have to say something.
“I woke up (Thursday) and I was a little more sore than normal (for a day after pitching), and I woke up (Friday) and it was still sore. Usually by Day 2 I was throwing all my bullpens and recovering well. (But this time) by Day 2 it was bothering me pretty badly, so I decided to speak up.”
Though Taillon and the Pirates are going to seek a second opinion, the diagnosis as it stands now is something of a relief for a pitcher who missed a year because of UCL reconstruction – better known as “Tommy John surgery.” Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said an MRI showed Taillon’s UCL was fully intact.
“Having a history in that area,” Taillon said, “…that was a big sigh of relief.”
Another silver lining to be found is that Taillon theoretically will be a better pitcher if and when the tendon heals. Taillon said the injury was affecting him to the point he was reluctant to throw a curveball, what he calls “one of my best pitches.”
“I shook off a couple times (Wednesday) later in the game off my curveball, and I gave up a couple home runs on pitches I shook,” Taillon said. “That’s where it starts becoming an issue and starts affecting the team.”
Taillon allowed two home runs in his most recent outing Wednesday, and he has allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 11 1/3 innings over his past two outings. For the season, Taillon is 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.
Veteran lefthanded reliever Tyler Lyons will take Taillon’s vacated spot on the pitching staff; the Pirates selected the contract of Lyons from Indianapolis after he had a 3.18 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings over 10 appearances for the Triple-A Indians.
Lyons, 31, spent the past six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals with a 4.09 ERA in 147 games.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Taillon will remain a significant part of the clubhouse while injured.
“He’s going to do everything but compete and throw for a month,” Hurdle said.
In addition to missing the 2014-15 seasons because of the Tommy John surgery and sports hernia, respectively, Taillon also overcame testicular cancer after reaching the majors.
“If there’s anybody that you are gonna bet on coming back,” Hurdle said, “it would be Jameson.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .