Padres Prospect Interview: Steve Delabar

The only mark on his 2006 resume seemed to be the amount of walks he issued. Even so, Steve Delabar had a fantastic season for the Fort Wayne Wizards and was a driving force behind their playoff run. He is looking for better things this coming year – including improved control.

It seemed like when you were in the strike zone you were virtually unhittable.

Steve Delabar: I had a lot of problems – as you can tell from the walks this year. Throughout the whole season I had been working on some mechanical things with Tom Bradley and then Mike Couchee would come in and he would try and adjust me here and there and Bill Bryk would come in and adjust me. It seemed like everyone who came in wanted to work on something else. Whenever they came in I would do something different and that would throw me off and they would say, ‘this is what we saw, you need to change it.'

For a while there, nobody came around and I was pretty good. I guess it was a mental thing whenever they showed up that I had to do something better.

In between half and three-quarters through the season I realized they mean nothing as far as what I do on the field. They help out and all but it is up to me what I do on the field. I just took that and went with it and had a decent year.

It was kind of strange when I look back on your year but you threw better against lefties than righties. Is there a specific pitch you were using on them that was more effective?

Steve Delabar: I started to throw my slider to lefties and throw it in to them whenever I was up in the count and I was able to pitch in real well to lefties because I had the outside fastball to righties and was able throw that and get in on the lefties to where they couldn't get extended. But against righties I had trouble coming in on those guys. That is something I am going to really work hard on this off-season, working the right side of the plate to get in on right-handed hitters.

You also had a bigger comfort level pitching out of the stretch versus the windup. Was that a bearing down with men on base?

Steve Delabar: I guess the concentration, ‘Oh man, I don't want these guys to score.' Sometimes you don't get that many runs and you don't want to give up too many because your guys might not want to play behind you if you give up too many. I just try to keep as many guys from scoring as I can and I guess when guys get on base I really try to focus a little harder and make better pitches down in the zone.

This was your first full season – did you feel tired when August rolled around?

Steve Delabar: There were a couple of things. I had never pitched that many innings before. I think I threw 150 this year and I think the most I have ever thrown was close to maybe 100. Throwing that many innings without a long break really did have a mental and physical strain on my body. That is another thing I am going to work on – knowing what I have to work for and preparing myself for that.

You mentioned talking to different people in the organization who were giving you pointers. Can you pick pieces of the puzzle that fit your needs? It is tough when someone tells you they want you to do this or that and it doesn't go well but did you learn to takes bits and pieces to put into your game?

Steve Delabar: Yes. That is something that I learned since I have played professional ball is you have to take in what's good for you and throw away the rest. There are tons of guys who tell you all kinds of stuff.

All these guys really want what is best for you at the same time.

Steve Delabar: Right. And sometimes they come in and see minor things I can do at the time that would help me while I am out there pitching. But, I know my body and what feels good whenever I am pitching, as far as mechanically, and whenever I feel good, that is when I have good results. Whenever they tell me to do something that doesn't feel right to me then I try and let them know that ‘that doesn't feel good. Sure I am going to work on it but it is probably not the best thing for me right now.' Especially during the season – it is hard to make adjustments on the fly like that.

When you look back on the year, how do you assess it overall on a personal level?

Steve Delabar: I think it was pretty good. I kind of got tired towards the end. I started leaving the ball up and that is when I started giving up more home runs. I gave up two that last game and another one in the playoffs. The ball started to get up a little bit and then my walks – I would really like to get my walks down. If I get my walks down, the guys will be a little bit more ready to play behind me and maybe a couple of those singles won't get through.

I need to work on consistency and I am sure anyone who has seen me will probably say the same thing.

Where were you missing? When you look back at the season it wasn't like you were leaving the ball up in the zone because only eight or nine left the park.

Steve Delabar: It was more in and out, sometimes up and sometimes down. Most of the time it was too far down and then those days where I felt really good overthrowing it and the ball gets elevated. Those are the games I gave up several hits and home runs. I had a pretty good routine so a lot of time I did feel really good.

Now, I am not trying to make excuses for you but trying to understand the walks a little more. Did you feel early in the season that the replacement umpires worked against you in that you had to be more fine because they were pinching the zone or didn't know it as well as the regular umpires and it carried throughout the season?

Steve Delabar: I thought they were bad but also good for the pitchers because they had real bad strike zones. I was able to take advantage on pitches that normally wouldn't be called. I tried to take advantage of that and it worked out the first half of the season and then we got the good guys and they tightened up and I had to tighten up a little and ended up walking more than I would have liked.

You mentioned working on consistency through the off-season. How do you accomplish that while still staying fresh for the coming year?

Steve Delabar: I go through a lot of mechanical drills, trying to fine tune my mechanics without throwing a ball so when I do pick up a baseball I don't have to think about the mechanical things. It will come easy to me. I will try and fine tune mechanics without throwing the ball. I just do a bunch of drills to strengthen up certain points.

What is the hope or goal for this year?

Steve Delabar: I would like to start out in Lake Elsinore and hopefully things go well. I can't jump too far ahead.

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