Taillon: Clemente Award nomination 'a big honor'

September 4th, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- The moment walked into the Pirate City complex as a young prospect, he began to understand Roberto Clemente's significance in the Pirates organization and in the city of Pittsburgh.

When Taillon underwent treatment for testicular cancer last year, he began to understand the impact he could have as a Major League player and cancer survivor. Taillon has become deeply involved in several charitable, philanthropic and community efforts, making him the Pirates' worthy nominee for the annual Roberto Clemente Award.

"I've been a fan of his. I visit The Clemente Museum all the time. I think his jersey's probably still the most-sold jersey in Pittsburgh," Taillon said. "I understand what he means to this city and what kind of humanitarian he was. It's definitely a big honor."

The league-wide winner of the Clemente Award will be announced during the World Series. Two Pirates have won the award named after the Pittsburgh icon: Willie Stargell in 1974 and in 2015.

The importance of community service is instilled in Pirates players from the time they enter the organization. Prospects are encouraged and expected to sign up for charitable efforts. As they near the Majors, Taillon said, each player typically finds a cause that is particularly close to his heart.

That came into focus for Taillon last year, when he quickly returned from his cancer surgery. The 26-year-old right-hander, a coffee connoisseur, partnered with Pittsburgh's Commonplace Coffee to create a special blend with proceeds going to Lending Hearts, a local nonprofit organization that supports children and young adults living with cancer.

This year, Taillon also joined the Taylor Hooton Foundation's advisory board, which helps educate young people about the importance of proper nutrition and the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. In July, Taillon answered questions and encouraged children to live a healthy lifestyle as part of the national PLAY campaign.

"There's depth. There's a lot of thought. There's a lot of service-mindedness to him," manager Clint Hurdle said of Taillon. "There's a lot of compassion and empathy in his character as well. I think he's a wonderful choice. To have your name represented and tied to a Clemente Award, it's a high honor. He's very worthy."

Wednesday is the 17th annual Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, a moment to honor Clemente's legacy. The Pirates do so each year by reaching out to the community through a number of different charitable efforts.

This year, Pirates players, coaches, executives and alumni will visit the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Latino Family Center, conduct a "Shred Hate" assembly at Brashear High School, meet with veterans at the Southwestern Veterans Center, take part in a "Fun at Bat" event at the Conroy Education Center and host a Miracle League Fantasy Camp at PNC Park.

Around the horn

• Right-hander , who is currently away from the team due to a personal matter, is listed to start Saturday's game against the Marlins at PNC Park. Right-hander filled in for Nova in Atlanta on Sunday.

• Super-utility man , called up on Saturday, made his first big league start on Tuesday night. Reyes was in the lineup against Reds left-hander , batting seventh and playing third base.

• Double-A Altoona, the Pirates' only Minor League affiliate to reach the postseason, will begin Eastern League Division Series play in Akron, Ohio, on Wednesday. Altoona has made the playoffs each of the last four years.