TAMPA, Fla. — Jameson Taillon made quite the first impression.
The righthander, among the slew of rotation question marks for the Yankees — in his case because of an extensive injury history — was terrific Monday in his exhibition debut.
Taillon, throwing to Gary Sanchez, worked a perfect second inning, striking out one in the seven-pitch frame.
"In my head I was like, ‘Man, I wish I could have gotten a little more in-game work there,’ " said Taillon, who hasn’t pitched in a regular-season game since undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career in August 2019. "But you know what? For the first one [outing], shorter is better. Quick and clean. Get in, get out. I’m healthy. I feel great."
Taillon struck out the first batter he faced, Daniel Pinero, with a diving curveball, then retired Derek Hill and Robbie Grossman on routine fly balls.
"More efficient than me," Gerrit Cole, a former teammate of Taillon’s with the Pirates, said with a smile. Cole needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning, one in which he allowed a run, three hits and a walk.
There are no questions surrounding Cole, of course, so place his start in the getting-his-work-in category reserved for players with their roster spots more than secure.
For Taillon, because of his past and the revamping he’s done with his delivery since the second Tommy John surgery, the results may not have been important, but they were not insignificant.
"I didn’t have butterflies once I got to the field, but waking up today, it definitely felt different," said Taillon, who went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2018, his last full season. "But other than that, once I got going, once I’m on the mound and stuff, that’s kind of like my safe spot where I’m confident, so it felt good."
Don’t sleep on Dietrich
Derek Dietrich, a non-roster invitee who has seen action at first, second, third and in the outfield in his eight-year big-league career, hopes to stick with the Yankees as a reserve. Six of those seasons were with Miami (2013-18), where he got to know Giancarlo Stanton, a Marlin from 2010-17.
"G works harder than almost anyone that I’ve ever played with," Dietrich said. "It’s definitely a blessing to be back on the same field as him."
As for his role, Dietrich, 31, doesn’t have one. He said his preferred position is second base because that’s where he’s played the most, but he’s fine with wherever he plays.
"I’ve always kind of been that versatile player, the Swiss Army knife, get my bat in the lineup, get on base, hit with power and play pretty good defense no matter where I am," he said.
The prospect of playing for the Yankees made his decision an easy one.
"Competing every day is what I do," the lefthanded-hitting Dietrich said. "So when I have the opportunity to have a chance to play for the New York Yankees, I jumped at it because, obviously, you may only get one shot to put on the pinstripes. And it’s such an honor, and the reputation and all the great players and people that have been a part of this organization, I just really wanted to just jump at it and take this opportunity, hopefully make the absolute most of it and win a World Series."