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Jameson Taillon is one of the toughest guys you'll meet

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Monday night was more than a game. For Jameson Taillon, it was another heave in an ongoing push to liberation from a disease that can break down the toughest of men.

The move back into his daily routine came against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.  The pitcher, who five weeks ago underwent surgery for testicular cancer, carried a bravado to the mound Monday night that made the most terrifying “c-word” in the English language cower.

“I felt good tonight.  I felt crisp,” said the confident pitcher after the game.

Taillon, who battled back from Tommy John surgery and an ongoing groin issue prior to this bout with cancer, mowed down the Rockies like he’s done to opposing lineups all year long, going five strong innings, striking out five on 82 pitches of work in the Pirates' 7-2 win.

“I felt really strong.  I got in some trouble there late, but I still felt really good.  I think the adrenaline in a Major League game is a little bit more, so you know the 80 pitches on a Major League field might be a bit different than the 95 I threw in Triple-A a week ago.”

The second overall pick in the 2010 draft made his first official return to the mound since the surgery on May 28 in Erie, when he tossed three shutout innings, earning six strikeouts in a brief outing with Double-A Altoona.

“After the first inning, I was able to calm it down,” Taillon said about his outing Monday.  “Once I got in for my first inning, and I got to wait between my first and second, I kind of calmed down, stopped sweating so much and had a little time to think.”

Manager Clint Hurdle was maybe the most thrilled out of everyone for Taillon’s return.  It could be seen when the skipper was discussing his starting pitcher with a grin that reached both ears.

“The fact that he went out there and performed like that, that is what I want to celebrate.  That is what this team wants to celebrate,” said Hurdle.  “It could have gone the other way, but we were still going to celebrate the effort and the work back.”

“The fact that he was able to come back and give us a chance to win the game, and pitch as effectively as he did- well yes, he’s mentally tough,” continued the skipper.  “Yes, he’s physically tough.  Those two down years, they put layers of toughness on him physically and mentally that I don’t know if he would have gotten it any other way.  He’s made the most of it.”

A thought process over-logged with thoughts of triumph, cautious optimism and readiness, Taillon presented himself calm, cool and collected Monday night, with a keen mental toughness you could read on his sleeve.

The truth is unequivocally plain and simple: Jameson Taillon is the toughest son of a gun you’ll meet.  Just ask the man on the other side of the field that has battled his own bout with Taillon’s specific form of cancer.

“He’s a tough guy.  It’s nothing short of spectacular,” said Chad Bettis, who underwent surgery in March 10, and has been back in the clubhouse with the Rockies, despite not pitching yet this season. “I don’t know if it was planned or if it was destiny, but it’s a privilege to be here (for his return).”

Taillon is an inspiration to everybody that comes in contact with him and his story.  Not only can you battle cancer, but you can make it look like Alabama football giving a Week 1 thrashing to a Mid-Major.  You can go about your life.  You can never let it get you down.  Oh, and you can pitch.  Pitch damn well.  Even if you don’t know what you’re throwing out there.

“I just blacked out.  I don’t even remember what pitches I throw,” said a laughing Taillon when asked about his selection of pitches Monday night.  “I’m not a guy who can tell you in a 2-1 count in the sixth inning what I threw a guy.  I just go out there and pitch to pitch.  When I’m out there it’s just more compete mode.”

Taillon continued with his most inspirational note of the night.

“I feel like I’ve been through a lot, and hopefully there’s not much more coming my way, and I can just take the ball every fifth day,” the tough as nails pitcher said.  “Whenever there’s a runner on third and no outs it’s not as big a deal to me anymore.  I got a bit of perspective.”

His battle continues, but his strength and resolve carries a consistent flow.  He's taking on the toughest fight of his life like an unbreakable giant.  If you need a current score, then call it Taillon 56, cancer nothing.

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