Righty glad to return to baseball after cancer treatment
By Ben Weinrib and Jonathan Toye
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon took his first major step back in his recovery from surgery to treat testicular cancer, making a rehab start for Double-A Altoona on Sunday.
The 25-year-old struck out six over three scoreless innings and held Erie to one hit and one walk. Taillon threw 47 pitches, 29 for strikes, and left a good impression on the coaching staff.
"He was very efficient," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He was getting ahead and staying ahead, putting people away. Life and sink to the two-seamer. Four-seamer was true with velocity. He elevated it when he wanted to. The curveball, he threw for strikes and for chase. The changeup was inconsistent, but the two-seamer was a very good pitch."
Taillon noticed an abnormality on May 2, the night before his last start with the Pirates, and underwent surgery six days later. He has since thrown two bullpen sessions -- 25 and 35 pitches, respectively -- and said returning to a normal baseball routine has been "therapeutic."
The Pirates do not have a set schedule for what Taillon will do next, but Hurdle said Taillon will return to the team soon and they will talk over their options.
"We don't have expectations, and we want to take it slow with him so he doesn't feel any unneeded urgency," Hurdle said. "He needs to get right when he's right ... this is uncharted territory."
Taillon has a 3.31 ERA in six starts for the Pirates this season. The No. 2 overall Draft pick in 2010, Taillon came into the year as Pittsburgh's No. 2 starter following a strong rookie season in which he posted a 3.38 ERA in 104 innings.
Frazier adjusting on the fly
Left fielder Adam Frazier's torrid stretch at the plate has attracted attention around MLB. Hurdle is sure of that.
Frazier is slashing .368/.463/.509 in 15 games back from the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, hitting two of his three homers in that span. But with that success at the leadoff spot comes learning how to handle pitchers' adjustments.
"With the amount of information that's out there now and a guy who makes as much noise as he made with the bat, people start grabbing video," Hurdle said. "They start looking at what he does hit, looking for different ways to attack. There's enough pitchers up here at this level with command, execution and weapons also to try different things. It's always the ongoing battle up here of punch and counterpunch, and figuring some things out."
Frazier has cooled off at the plate recently, hitting 1-of-9 in his last two games. He just has to keep adjusting to pitchers' approaches, including the extra off-speed pitches he's seeing lately.
"Different pitchers have different ways to attack hitters," Frazier said. "You just got to figure that out and match it."
Ben Weinrib and Jonathan Toye are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.