Jameson Taillon took the mound in a major league uniform on Wednesday night for the first time since May 1, 2019, after which he was shut down due to a forearm injury that required surgery.
His rehab process forced him to sit out all of 2020 as well, but on Wednesday night, he made his long-awaited return to the mound, and to make it even more special, he did it in a Yankees uniform, as he made his team debut in the Bronx.
The 29-year-old right-hander gave the Yankees just about everything they were hoping to see in his first regular season start off major surgery, as he went 4.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits while striking out seven, throwing 74 pitches in a game the Yankees would eventually drop in 11 innings.
Afterwards, Taillon explained what it felt like to be back on the mound as he made his debut in pinstripes.
“Extremely grateful,” Taillon said of his emotions on the night. “I didn’t really have time to reflect while I was out there. I had some time once I was done. That game ran a little long and I had plenty of time to get in my thoughts, and this is gonna sound cheesy, but I’ll never take a day in a big league uniform for granted, that’s for sure.
“I was super happy to be out there. Felt really good to compete. Good to get the first one out of the way, really excited to be a part of this team and now just build off of this and get going.”
After retiring the first nine Orioles hitters he faced in order, Taillon’s only real blemishes came in the fourth inning, when he allowed a pair of solo home runs to Cedric Mullens and Anthony Santander.
But even in giving up those two homers, Taillon was happy just to be able to face big league competition again.
“I haven’t been pissed at myself in a while,” Taillon said with a laugh. “Giving up two home runs, I think I made a comment about that to the other starters. In a weird way, I obviously didn’t miss giving up home runs, but I missed that competitive fire and that edge. When you’re rehabbing, that’s impossible to mimic. It’s impossible to get in spring training, it’s impossible to get in a live BP or a bullpen setting.
“I never enjoy doing that, but I did miss the competitiveness of me vs. you, me vs. the hitter. So yeah, I guess I haven’t been mad at myself in a while.”
The Yankees may have ultimately lost the game on Wednesday, but Taillon’s performance in his first start in nearly two years has to be a huge silver lining.