Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon had a stellar outing in his 2018 spring training debut on Monday at LECOM Park in Bradenton.
And his boss is beaming about the lanky right-hander.
The Lakeland native struck out three and allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox.
“He’s focused. He’s worked very hard,” manager Clint Hurdle told MLB.com. “I saw the fastball command improve as the outing went on. He threw some good breaking balls. It was a good step forward for him.”
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Taillon’s lone blemish against the Red Sox was a ground-ball single to center.
Taillon, 26, is in his third big-league season and was the Pirates’ No. 1 draft pick and second overall in the 2010 MLB June amateur draft.
On his way up the big-league ladder, he played for the Bradenton Marauders during the 2012 season and was considered the staff’s ace pitcher.
He was sidelined in 2014 (Tommy John surgery) and 2015 (hernia surgery).
With his health restored and continued progress on the mound, Taillon was promoted from AAA Indianapolis and made his big-league debut with the Pirates in 2016.
Taillon overcame his biggest health challenge yet last season. In May, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, underwent surgery and was back on the mound just five weeks later.
He told the AP that he’s a “different person” entering the 2018 campaign.
“I don’t think there is any doubt about that,” Taillon told the AP. “I know people always say that when they’ve gone through something like cancer, but it really is true. I look at life differently. I’m a little more serious about things. I’m a more mature person than I was a year ago at this time.”
He told MLB.com that his confidence continues to grow.
“I feel definitely ahead of where I was at last year, strength-wise, command-wise. I’m in a good place,” Taillon told MLB.com. “I feel mechanically like I’m allowing myself to make some different pitches that I wasn’t able to last year.”
Tom Alberts: 941-745-7040, @alberts_tom