Jameson Taillon threw his first live batting practice today at Pirate City, going up against Corey Hart and Sebastian Valle. Ignoring performance, and ignoring the fact that Taillon is now throwing to live hitters, the most encouraging sign was what Taillon said afterward about how his elbow feels.
“Bending it doesn’t hurt. That’s good. It feels strong,” Taillon said. “I think tomorrow, it would be natural for me to be a little sore. But I feel really good right now. I felt good out there. The ball is coming out really good. I got some late swings. It’s a good sign that it was crisp.”
Taillon was throwing 35 pitches in his bullpen sessions prior to this step in his rehab process. Today he threw 28 pitches in the bullpen, followed by 20 pitches during the live BP.
“I had a really good throwing program before my bullpen,” Taillon said. “Started my bullpen off pretty well. And I think when we got out there, the extra added adrenalin sped me up a little bit in my delivery. Corey Hart was facing me, and he said that the second time through it looked a lot better. A lot more on time, and the ball was a lot crisper. It’s good feedback, and it felt good.”
Taillon said that he was a little amped up facing hitters for the first time in a year, but that he felt he did a good job of staying calm and having a good delivery. On Tuesday, I wrote about the evolution of his delivery, focusing on how he has reduced the drop in his delivery, and is now staying strong on his backside, and driving his head forward, which leads to better command and an easier ability to drive the ball down through the zone. I asked Taillon how those things were holding up against live hitters today.
“I thought I was staying back well,” Taillon said. “The slope of the mound and the extra adrenalin will sometimes cause you to drift a little bit towards the plate. I thought I did a good job of staying back. I nailed my finish. I wasn’t rolling off towards first, which was a good sign. I thought my head, for the most part, stayed inside the front of my foot. There were definitely a couple where I could feel it pulling off. That’s a good sign that I can feel it on my first one, and I know how to correct it now.”
The Pirates have kept Taillon on a conservative Tuesday/Friday schedule. He will remain on that schedule going forward, throwing bullpens on Tuesday, and live BP on Friday. Eventually he will move to a five-day schedule, which will probably come when he can go multiple innings, and when he’s ready to have the L-screen removed during live BP. Taillon doesn’t know at this point when that will be.