Rainiers’ right-handed pitcher Steve Delabar has been playing professional ball for seven seasons, beginning in 2004 when he was drafted by San Diego. After spending most of 2004-07 with the Padres’ system, he played with two independent league teams in 2008 and 2009. Out of baseball in 2010, he signed as a minor league free agent with the Mariners’ organization in April 2011, playing in Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A before making his Major League debut on Sept. 11, 2011 – pitching one perfect inning against the Kansas City Royals. This season he started out in Seattle, returned to the Rainiers for a short stint and was recalled to the Mariners on June 29. Delabar, who turns 29 in July, talked recently with Tacoma Weekly’s baseball writer Karen Westeen about his baseball career.
TW: You were born in Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Do you still live in Kentucky?
SD: I do. My wife and I live in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and she’s here with me for the summer.
TW: Before you were drafted by the Padres you spent two years at Volunteer State Junior College. What was your major?
SD: Health and physical education.
TW: And you’ve already been able to put that to good use I believe.
SD: Yes. I worked as a substitute teacher in high school in 2010 while I was recovering from a broken elbow.
TW: You were drafted by the Angels in 2003. Why didn’t you sign with them?
SD: I was recovering from Tommy John surgery that I had my first year in college. I knew there was a chance I’d be taken, and I was happy but didn’t sign.
TW: What was the second draft day like?
SD: The excitement was still there, but it was almost like an expectation. I had a good year, I was completely healthy, knew it was there, and I went higher to San Diego.
TW: After you signed with the Padres your professional career started out in 2004 in the Arizona Rookie League and then Eugene at Single-A. Where did you go next?
SD: I played in Eugene in 2005 then went to Ft. Wayne, Ind. and Lake Elsinore, Calif. (both Single-A).
TW: You’ve been both a starter and a reliever in your career. Which do you prefer?
SD: I did starting for a long time, now I like relieving more. Growing up it was always fun to start because I knew when I would pitch, now I like the thought of not knowing when I will pitch, the excitement of the bullpen phone ringing. (The coach) calls your name, the adrenaline starts pumping and you start getting ready. Starters have a five-day routine but relievers have a routine also. We like to move around in a certain inning. We all have our set routine we like to do.
TW: Do you use the same outpitch whether you’re a starter or reliever?
SD: I like to rely on my fastball and split finger and I’m here (in Tacoma) to work on my slider, polish it up, make it a little better. Hopefully I’ll have three outpitches before too long. Different hitters call for different pitches. You just try to pitch to your strength as much as you can.
TW: Have you always been a pitcher?
SD: In high school I played third base also. I still hold a bunch of records for hitting at my high school.
TW: Did you have a favorite team when you were growing up?
SD: It was the Mariners. Ken Griffey Jr. was always my favorite growing up. He was “The Kid” and had that big smile. I enjoyed watching him play. I tried to wear number 24 and mimic his swing.
TW: Did you have some pitcher that was your role model?
SD: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux, guys who were the better pitchers. I wanted RJ’s fastball and slider, Pedro’s change up and Maddux’s control. I wanted to put it all together and be that one guy who was unhittable.
TW: You finally made your Major League debut with the Mariners last Sept. 11. Who was the first batter you faced?
SD: Alcides Escobar for the Royals and I got him to pop out. (Delabar also struck out Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera during his first inning of relief.)
TW: When did you get your first Major League win?
SD: Three days later on Sept. 14. (Against the Yankees – Delabar threw a scoreless 12th inning.)
TW: So what has been the highlight of your career so far?
SD: When I went to the M’s at the end of the season. I had played seven years, and I finally get a chance to play alongside of the guys I’d grown up watching.
TW: What do you like to do in the offseason?
SD: Besides get myself in shape for the season I like to hang out, watch football and relax with friends and family.
TW: What about offseason training?
SD: I go to an indoor facility that’s about 24,000 square feet. I have worked there doing instruction as well as working out there.
TW: What do see yourself doing when your playing career is over?
SD: I don’t think I’ll ever get away from this game. Once you’re in it you’re always a part of it. I think I’ll continue to do something involved with it. I’m definitely going to finish up my degree in health and P.E. and I might branch off into some athletic performance stuff, be a coach at some level, or have a training facility.
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