Mariners’ Steve Delabar talks about path to big leagues

Sep 7, 2011, 5:20 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm

The Mariners called up relief pitcher Steve Delabar and two other players from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday. (AP)

By Jacob Thorpe
Special to

Of all the new September call-ups finding their way around the Mariners clubhouse, perhaps none took a more circuitous route to the big leagues than relief pitcher Steve Delabar.

As the Padres’ 29th round pick in the 2003 draft, it was already a long shot for Delabar to ever make it to the majors. When he needed to get a steel plate surgically inserted into his throwing elbow in 2009, and had never made it past A ball, it seemed like it might be time for Delabar to hang up his cleats and pursue his other dream: Becoming a teacher.

And so he did. Delabar took classes at the University of Louisville and began working as a substitute teacher and baseball coach. But he kept throwing, working out at his friend’s indoor facility and under his tutelage Delabar got his velocity up to the mid-90’s. That was enough to impress Mariners scout Brian Williams.

Everything after that was a blur. Delabar signed a minor league contract and shot through the farm system and posted a 0.69 ERA in 10 Triple-A appearances. That was good enough for the Mariners, who recently promoted him as a member of their expanded 40-man roster.

Delabar joined the “Kevin Calabro Show” on Wednesday to talk about his amazing recovery.

“It’s just crazy,” Delabar said. “All the stuff that I’ve been through this year, I guess the past year and a half, things have been just great.”

Delabar talked about his friend’s training program and how it made him a better pitcher.

“My whole thinking of it was, I wanted to learn this program because I was doing baseball instruction and I said, ‘I want to learn how this program works so whenever I teach it to kids I know what they’re going through’ … So I started going through the program and [my] army strength got up, velocity got up and I was like, ‘hey, this might work out for me.'”

Still, Delabar wasn’t about to give up his teaching career to chase a pipe dream, and wanted to make sure that he’d have a real shot at baseball before he gave it a try.

“I told the owner of the indoor facility that I work at that I’m not even going to consider it unless I’m throwing 100 [mph],” Delabar said. “And we got to where the velocity was 94, 96, 97 and he goes, ‘I think we need to give the scout a call.'”

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