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Taillon upbeat as he rehabs from surgery

PITTSBURGH — Jameson Taillon has plenty of experience when it comes to rehabbing from injuries.

The Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander has had two Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgeries during his professional career. He’s also undergone surgeries to repair a sport hernia and remove cancerous tissue from his scrotum.

“I guess rehab is in my blood now,” Taillon said.

Yet Taillon continues to be upbeat while the midst of his latest rehab. He underwent his latest Tommy John procedure in August that will cause him to miss the 2020 season.

“I’m not happy go lucky about this, just to be happy go lucky,” Taillon said Saturday during the Pirates’ annual fan festival at PNC Park. “I really believe I have more to give and more to accomplish in my career. That is why I stay upbeat. I know there are better things to come.”

The 28-year-old Taillon began a throwing program Monday in his hometown of Houston, playing catch from 60 feet.

He emerged as the Pirates’ ace in 2018 when he had a 14-10 record and 3.20 ERA in 32 starts.

Taillon was rewarded with his career first opening-day start last season and tried to pitch through elbow pain that got increasing worse. He went on the injured list following what turned out to be his last start of the season May 1 against the Texas Rangers.

Now he won’t pitch again until 2021.

Taillon spent much of last summer attempting to rehab the injury and avoid surgery before being shut down. He finished the year 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in seven starts.

Fellow right-hander Joe Musgrove said the Pirates greatly missed Taillon last season. Pittsburgh went on to finish in last place in the NL Central for the first time since 2010.

“Jamo is the anchor of our rotation, the guy we all look to as the leader,” Musgrove said. “We missed him on the mound obviously, but we also missed him in the clubhouse. Everyone has such great respect for him, and I think a lot of us maybe tried to do a little too much to compensate for not having him.”

Though Taillon will do most of his rehab at the Pirates’ spring training facility in Bradenton, Florida during the season, he plans to keep in close contact with his teammates.

Taillon will join the team when the Pirates play games in or near Florida and likely switch his rehab to Pittsburgh in June when he is expected to be cleared to throw off a mound. He will also receive the scouting reports on opposing hitters prior to each series from new pitching coach Oscar Marin.

“I want to stay involved as much as I can,” Taillon said. “We’re coming up with some creative ways so I can still be part of the team, even when I am in Florida. It’s good to know I’ll still be part of things.”

NOTES: Musgrove and 3B Colin Moran were both rookies with the 2017 Houston Astros. Both said they were not interviewed by Major League Baseball about the Astros electronically stealing signs both that season and 2018 during home games. MLB suspended Houston general manager Jeff Luhow and manager AJ Hinch for one season, and both were subsequently fired by Astros owner Jim Crane. … Taillon grew up rooting for the Astros and said he was “saddened” by the scandal, adding “a lot of the Astros players do a lot of good in the Houston community. It’s disappointing.”

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