Pirates' Jameson Taillon: 'Look at life differently' after cancer fight

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After a bout with testicular cancer last season, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon says he's a "different person" entering the 2018 season.

"I don't think there is any doubt about that," Taillon, 26, said at the Pirates' spring training camp. "I know people always say that when they've gone through something like cancer, but it really is true. I look at life differently. I'm a little more serious about things. I'm a more mature person than I was a year ago at this time."

Taillon received the diagnosis in early May and had surgery. Just five weeks later, he was activated from the disabled list and pitched five scoreless innings to beat the visiting Colorado Rockies.

"The best-case scenario is that it happened during the season," Taillon said. "I had my teammates for support, and I had a goal of returning to help the team to serve as a distraction."

Through his first two seasons, Taillon is a respectable 13-11 with a 3.98 ERA over 43 starts.

"I don't want to say I feel things are easier now, because this game is never easy, but I do feel a lot more comfortable," Taillon said. "Not just with the pitching aspect, but just everything that goes into playing in the major leagues.

"I think back a couple of years ago to spring training and everything was kind of overwhelming. You're meeting so many people, trying to remember so many names, trying to fit in with the organization and [teammates]. I'd go home at the end of the day and be exhausted. Now, I feel like I belong. I feel confident, on and off the field."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says Taillon has already emerged as a leader.

"It's not so much his words, but his actions," Hurdle said. "The way he goes about things. The way he handles himself. The work he puts in. The adversity he has overcome. Those kinds of things make the other guys take notice."