"I don't know if 'surprised' is the right word, but I guess I'm pleased with where I'm at," Taillon said. "It starts out, you just hope for any good news back. … Truly, that one-step-at-a-time deal really rings true for me right now. All those steps added up, and here I am."
The 25-year-old spent a week resting after his surgery, then resumed throwing. He threw a handful of bullpen sessions under the supervision of pitching coach Ray Searage and head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk before beginning a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona.
After throwing three scoreless innings for Altoona on May 28, Taillon made a pair of longer starts for Triple-A Indianapolis. He worked six innings on 97 pitches on Wednesday, proving himself ready for the Majors.
While news of his diagnosis initially shook him and his family, Taillon was relieved to hear doctors say they caught the cancer early. He set out to approach his recovery like he attacks hitters on the mound, and he has cleared every necessary medical hurdle since then, and there have been no hiccups in his move back to the mound.
"It's been an interesting process for everybody -- not something we saw coming into my 2017 season. I'm excited to pitch," Taillon said. "After this right here, I really want to be a pitcher again. Just want to be a guy on the team making starts and doing my job."
Coincidentally, Taillon's return will come against Colorado, a club that can identify with his situation. Right-hander Chad Bettis, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer late last year, has rejoined the Rockies for workouts with an eye on returning by the All-Star break. The two have been in contact since news of Taillon's surgery was made public last month.
"What he's doing is nothing short of extreme -- or not extreme -- but great," Bettis said recently. "I think I texted him, and he was talking to me and he was saying, 'I just want to get back. I just want to get back and do what I love doing.' And I was like, 'I get it. I was in the exact same spot you were when I first had surgery. I was trying to get back. I wanted to be normal again and play well and get back to helping our team win.'
"What he's doing is great. I think it speaks volumes of him and the person that he is."
Taillon will replace right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. That means right-handers Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams should remain in Pittsburgh's rotation. Kuhl, who would have been on turn to pitch Monday, had his scheduled start pushed back to Wednesday.
"Physically, mentally, I'm 100 percent. I'm as sharp as I've been all year," Taillon said. "If anything, I had some time while I was away to work on things I wanted to get done and sharpen up. I'm probably in a better spot now than I was before."