For the third time this year, Curve pitcher Jameson Taillon is dealing with a peculiar stiff neck issue that he can't explain and has arisen after waking up in the morning.
Many people wake up awkwardly and get a crick in their neck that makes it uncomfortable to turn their head for a day or two. It's hard to explain why it happens, but it's certainly more problematic when it keeps reoccurring with a high-profile athlete.
"I don't really know what's going on, honestly," said Taillon, who's scheduled to start Tuesday night at Trenton, but that outing would seem doubtful at this point.
The Curve lost to Erie on Saturday, 6-4, before 4,762 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Afterward, Taillon still had the stiff neck and had to turn most of his body to look to his left.
He was to be seen by a doctor in the clubhouse for precautionary reasons.
Taillon had the same thing happen during spring training and recovered quickly. It happened again in early June, forcing him to skip a start.
Taillon started Thursday night and had no issues, going seven innings for a win against Erie.
"I threw the other night, felt great, woke up, felt great," he said. "[Friday] I worked out, ran, felt fine. I went to bed, woke up [Saturday] and it just started hurting again on my left side."
Asked if it's scary to have had it happen three times now, Taillon said, "I don't really know. I don't think it's from throwing and stuff because [Friday] I felt fine. I went to bed, felt fine. I woke up and even felt OK. Before I ever got here and played catch it started acting up. It would be nice if it didn't keep coming back, but I'm not too, too worried about it."
The Pirates obviously have high hopes for Taillon, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010 and one of the top prospects in the minor leagues. The neck issue is odd only in the fact that it's happened three times now, but anything that keeps a player like Taillon from being able to perform has to be taken seriously, even if it is only a crick in the neck.
"We've got to get more information before we get a feel for anything," Pirates assistant general manager Kyle Stark said Saturday night. "Nobody, including J-Mo, anticipates this being anything significant.
"I think every year you've got guys - you may not necessarily know it or not - but guys deal with nagging things," Stark added.
Taillon said he's "not overly concerned right now" since it's his neck and not his arm. He believes it's "just a sleep thing."
Sleep positioning isn't usually something players get asked about, but in this case it's relevant.
"I do move a lot. I'm all over the place," Taillon said. "It feels almost like it would be on my back with my neck kind of on my chest, I don't really know."
Key player: Erie LF Tyler Collins went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run.
Key play: Collins' two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Quinton Miller (1-4) broke up a 4-4 tie. 1B Justin Howard hit a three-run homer for the Curve in the third.
Key stat: The Curve had their three-game winning streak snapped.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Maggi doubled, scored on Polanco single (1-0); Dickerson double scored Polanco (2-0).
Top 3rd: Robbins doubled, scored on Gaynor double (2-1); Suarez two-run homer scored Gaynor (2-3).
Bottom 3rd: Dickerson walked, scored on Howard two-run homer (4-3).
Top 7th: Douglas tripled, scored on Gaynor groundout (4-4).
Top 8th: Fields singled, scored on Collins two-run homer (4-6).