Pirates shut down Taillon for 4 weeks with elbow strain


Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon reacts as manager Clint Hurdle walks to the mound to relieve him against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday May 1, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (Mike Stone / AP)

PITTSBURGH — Jameson Taillon‘s surgically repaired right elbow is intact. That’s about the only good news for the Pittsburgh Pirates ace, who will be shut down for at least a month after the pain he’d been dealing with off and on since spring training was diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain.

The team placed Taillon on the 10-day injured list Saturday after he complained of lingering pain following a victory over Texas on Wednesday. The 27-year-old is 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in seven starts this season. He’s the second member of Pittsburgh’s rotation to go on the injured list in the last week. Chris Archer is dealing with inflammation in his right thumb.

“I probably first noticed something was a little different back in spring training but having had surgery on this part of my arm, I wasn’t really sure what’s kind of wear and tear and what’s a problem,” Taillon said. “So I was just pitching with it and managing it and then it hit a point where I realized this was probably something different.”

Taillon felt the elbow tighten up at times against the Rangers. He felt a twinge while throwing his curveball and even shook out of his go-to pitch a couple of times, decisions that led to Texas home runs. He felt the usual soreness on Thursday but became alarmed when the discomfort lingered into Friday.

“If you feel something, you don’t want to be in the training room over every little thing that’s bothering you,” Taillon said. “But also, if you’re fighting it on your own, man, it’ll beat you up and become something that’s 5-6 weeks of dealing with it on your own and it becomes exhausting. It’s something where you need to get help and trust them.”

Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said there were no metrics that indicated Taillon was less than 100 per cent. An MRI exam indicated the ulnar collateral ligament Taillon had surgery on in 2014 was just fine. Tomczyk said all indications are the issue is with overuse and didn’t stem from one particular pitch or sequence. Taillon will meet with Dr. David Altcheck — who performed Tommy John surgery on Taillon in 2014 — for a second opinion.

The injury is the latest setback for Taillon, who in addition to missing all of 2014 due to surgery fought testicular cancer in 2017. He bounced back to put together the finest season of his young career in 2018, going 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA. Though he won’t be able to go to the mound every fifth game, Taillon is planning to try to help in other areas for the Pirates, who are relying heavily on their starting rotation to keep them in the mix in the hyper-competitive National League Central.

“It’s kind of like your starting quarterback getting hurt and how he stays engaged with the team,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’ll still be in the pregame game-planning. He’ll be involved in the bullpen sessions. He’s a big part of that clubhouse. He’s going to do everything but compete and throw for a month. That’s what’s next for him.”

Pittsburgh called up reliever Tyler Lyons on Saturday. Lyons went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10 relief appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Pittsburgh also activated middle infielder Kevin Newman (right middle finger laceration) off the injured list and sent utility player Pablo Reyes to Indianapolis.

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