Cubs Injury News: Jameson Taillon scratched from spring debut with back spasms

The veteran right-hander is looking to bounce back from a tough first season in Chicago.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

If the Chicago Cubs are going to exceed projections and punch a postseason ticket in 2024, they're going to need Jameson Taillon to look like the guy he was late last year rather than the pitcher who posted a 6.93 through his first 14 starts of the season.

That's somewhat troubling, given Taillon hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game this spring. The fact he was scratched from his scheduled debut Saturday against the Rockies certainly hasn't helped anyone feel better about the situation, either.

Taillon's back locked up on him during pregame warmups, leading the Cubs to turn to non-roster invitee Thomas Pannone, who tossed three scoreless innings to set the tone in what wound up a 5-0 shutout victory.

"It just locked up on him 10 pitches into the mound portion of the warmup," manager Craig Counsell told "Let's see what happens overnight and we'll have kind of more guidance on what we're going to do here."

Cubs are hopeful Jameson Taillon will be back on the mound soon

According to reports, the Cubs are optimistic this is just a day-to-day issue, but the fact of the matter is that time's running out for Taillon to get ramped up for the regular season. Opening Day is less than three weeks away and if he isn't on the mound for games soon, Counsell could have to pivot when it comes to the starting rotation.

We learned Saturday Justin Steele will start Opening Day against the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers on March 28. The Cubs still have an ongoing battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. But more than one of those candidates could wind up starting the year in the rotation, with Javier Assad, Jordan Wicks and Drew Smyly vying for a starting gig.

Taillon can hardly afford to replicate his disastrous first half from a year ago. The most prudent course of action is to take things slow and make sure he's 100 percent before cranking things up. That might mean a missed start or two to open the year, but the last thing we need is for him to be ineffective over the long-term.