Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Taillon leads PLAY event at PNC Park

@adamdberry
June 19, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- When Jameson Taillon was young, he’d go to a local Little League field with his older brother, Jordan, to work out. Jordan was the first person, Taillon said, who advised the Pirates right-hander to watch what he ate and to exercise like an athlete. “Him being a big

PITTSBURGH -- When Jameson Taillon was young, he’d go to a local Little League field with his older brother, Jordan, to work out. Jordan was the first person, Taillon said, who advised the Pirates right-hander to watch what he ate and to exercise like an athlete.

“Him being a big role model for me, hearing that coming from him was super important,” Taillon said. “It doesn’t matter who it comes from as long as you have somebody you can look up to that’s telling you to live the right way.”

That attitude led Taillon to a section of seats down the right-field line at PNC Park on Wednesday morning, when he spoke to a group of nearly 100 children who took part in the national “PLAY” campaign under the supervision of the Pirates’ performance team.

“PLAY,” in this case, stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth. The campaign was founded in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to raise awareness about childhood health issues and disability inclusion. They have hosted more than 350 events in Major League ballparks since then, encouraging children to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

The subject hits close to home for Taillon, who is an advisory board member for the Taylor Hooton Foundation.

“I’m big into watching what I put in my body. Diet, sleep, hydration -- there’s no secret answer. There’s not a diet plan or a supplement plan that works for everybody that’ll get you to the big leagues,” Taillon said. “It’s really about living right, watching what you put in your body, don’t let other people peer-pressure you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. Being active, playing outside -- that’s probably how most of the guys in the clubhouse will say they got here or fell in love with the game.”

Taillon shared that message with the children who participated in the two-hour program late Wednesday morning. The kids also took part in a five-station cycle run by members of the Pirates’ staff.

In right field, head athletic trainer Bryan Housand oversaw speed and agility drills. In center field, strength coach Jim Malone simulated cutoff and relay throws. In the home bullpen, physical therapist Kevin “Otis” Fitzgerald and rehab coordinator A.J. Patrick guided kids through core exercises. In left field, athletic trainer Ben Potenziano ran them through rundowns and relay drills. Meanwhile, in the visitors' dugout, director of sports nutrition Allison Maurer talked to a group about the importance of properly fueling their bodies.

“It’s such a great opportunity for us as a performance team to give back to the community, to give back to our youth, to have them play, to have them exercise on the same field as their favorite Pirates do,” director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said.

The impact of the event could be seen on the field, according to Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, and it will be felt long after the kids left the ballpark.

“This is really all about getting kids to achieve their goals the right way,” Parker said. “Getting kids off the couch, off the phone, being active, having fun, doing things the right way. We provide an educational piece on performance-enhancing drugs, so they’re getting both sides -- how to do it, how not to do it. Regardless of what they want to be when they grow up, they’ve got more tools to get it done.

“The first impact that we see is just the smiles on the faces, the kids having fun. Who wouldn’t have fun running around a Major League field? You see the educational impact as well. You can ask them. They get a few takeaways and learn a few things to prepare them for after today.”

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.