Following first rehab start, Taillon 'all good'

No timetable yet for Pirates righty after cancer surgery

Following first rehab start, Taillon 'all good'

PITTSBURGH -- A day after his first Minor League rehabilitation start, Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon reported back to PNC Park and said he felt "all good."

Taillon pitched three scoreless innings for Double-A Altoona on Sunday, striking out six and allowing one hit. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, he said, and he will make at least one more rehab start.

Since Taillon underwent surgery for testicular cancer on May 8, the Pirates have emphasized that his recovery will be a day-to-day process. Manager Clint Hurdle said the Bucs do not have a timetable created for the 25-year-old's return to Pittsburgh, though it is clear Taillon is pleased to be back on the mound.

"There's no playbook with this," Taillon said. "It's not Tommy John where it's, 'Hey, I'm going to be back on the mound in 13 months.' It was probably a little more rewarding."

Rehab assignments for pitchers can last a maximum of 30 days. Teams can postpone players' rehab assignments and restart the 30-day clock at any point, if necessary. If Taillon's Minor League stint goes uninterrupted, however, he should rejoin the Pirates' rotation at some point in June.

After making the two-hour drive north to UPMC Park in Erie, Pa., Taillon treated the Altoona club to a meal of steak and lobster from Outback Steakhouse.

"The nicest thing Erie had available," Taillon joked.

Working with catcher Jackson Williams, Taillon said he had a good feel for all of his pitches. The only issue at this point, he said, is his endurance. Taillon sat out a week after surgery before playing catch, and he threw a pair of bullpen sessions -- 25 and 35 pitches -- before getting into a game.

Taillon on his bullpen session

With that in mind, Taillon said he felt as if he had thrown six or seven innings following Sunday's three-inning outing. But he woke up Monday morning with only "normal, everyday soreness."

While some fans might be surprised to see Taillon pitching so soon after his cancer diagnosis, the right-hander seems to be most at home on the mound.

"Pitching is the last part for us. You've got your fingers crossed, hopes and prayers, that he's going to continue to get good news," general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. "Truth be told, it will always continue to be that way, that he continues to get good news as he works through this. ... To think about where he is today, it's incredible."

Minor matters

• Mitch Keller, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect, has not pitched for Class A Advanced Bradenton since May 16, when a bout of back tightness forced him to leave his start after one inning. Keller was nearing a return to competition recently, Huntington said, when his back flared up again.

Huntington said Keller's injury still "should be a relatively minor thing," but his time on the Minor League disabled list will be longer than expected.

Nick Kingham, the Bucs' No. 7 prospect, made his third start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. The right-hander allowed one run on three hits while striking out five over 6 1/3 innings, his best outing since returning from a late-spring ankle sprain. Huntington said the Pirates believe Kingham, 25, "can and will help us at some point this year."

• Top prospect Austin Meadows is heating up after a slow start. The 22-year-old outfielder entered Monday hitting .317/.378/.465 in May, with nearly as many walks (10) as strikeouts (11). Meadows batted just .195/.247/.256 with 20 strikeouts in April.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.