TAMPA — Jameson Taillon’s first game back from a second Tommy John surgery was short-lived, but only because of his own success.
The new Yankees right-hander, who had his second UCL reconstruction in August 2019 before being traded from the Pirates in January, needed just seven pitches to throw a perfect inning Monday against the Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
“In my head, I was like, ‘Man, I wish I could have gotten a little more in-game work there,’ ” Taillon said after following Gerrit Cole in the Yankees’ 5-4 win. “But for the first one, shorter is better, quick and clean, get in and get out, I’m healthy and I feel great. … I’ll have to go back and watch video to see, but it felt really good, it felt clean, I feel healthy. Those are all the big takeaways.”
After the quick outing — with a fastball that reached 93.8 mph and a curveball that induced a strikeout — Taillon threw 10 more pitches in the bullpen to wrap up a productive return to the mound and his first action in pinstripes.
Taillon’s health and his comeback from another Tommy John surgery will be key for the Yankees this season as their rotation behind Cole has high upside but high risk. So far, Taillon has only impressed manager Aaron Boone.
“I feel like even though he’s had a lot of bumps on the road along the way and dealt with injuries throughout his career, there’s a quiet confidence that he knows he’s a really good pitcher and knows what he’s capable of on the mound,” Boone said. “I thought stuff-wise, he looked good. … Long time coming for him to get out there.”
Taillon, who said he got rid of the butterflies once he got to the field, also got to test out his new delivery in a game setting. He is keeping his arm shorter in his motion before releasing the ball, which has improved his control.
“I used to be long and lanky and I wasn’t sure where my limbs were at all times,” he said. “So I definitely feel like by shortening up my delivery, I’ve gained way more control of where my body should be and I have more awareness of what I’m doing as I move down the mound.
“I’d say control as far as strike-throwing ability is way, way up. Command still has a little ways to go as far as putting it exactly where I want it.”
Cole, his former teammate in Pittsburgh, said he was glad he stuck around to watch Taillon’s latest step in his comeback.
“He had just a business-like approach, but he was smiling when he came off the mound,” Cole said. “That’s just a big moment for those guys you like to celebrate.”