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Steve Delabar’s path to Major League Baseball is the road least traveled. It’s a remarkable journey from minor league prospect to pitching in an independent league, from being out of baseball to getting a second chance and cashing in on the opportunity.
Tonight, Delabar, a Toronto Blue Jays reliever, will play in the All-Star Game at the New York Mets’ Citi Field, completing one of the greatest stories in baseball which seems straight out of Hollywood.
“I’m just happy,” Delabar said during a phone interview Thursday evening. “I guess with the wild ride I’ve been on the last couple of years and now I’m heading to an All-Star game, it’s pretty surreal. I’m just going to soak it all up and enjoy it.”
Three years ago, Delabar was working as a substitute teacher and coaching baseball at John Hardin after being released by the San Diego Padres in 2008 and then suffering a horrific injury with the Brockton Rox of the independent Can-Am League in 2009. To repair his right elbow, he needed a plate and nine screws
But a throwing program called Velocity led to a second chance. The Players Dugout owner Joe Newton was going to start the program and Delabar wanted to go through it so he could teach it. Delabar saw tremendous gains which led to an opportunity to work out for the Mariners.
Seattle came away impressed and signed Delabar to a contract in 2011. He shot through the organization, advancing through all three minor league levels before making his Major League debut as a September call up.
The Mariners shipped Delabar to Toronto near last season’s trade deadline and he’s continued to flourish. He is 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA and has struck out 58 in 42 innings.
“Somebody asked me, ‘If I told you, you would be up for consideration three years ago ...’ I would have laughed at them,” Delabar said. “You just go day by day, and just work hard for the future and hope that all things play out. You never expect something like this to happen. You just kind of go about doing your job and hoping good things happen.”
Chuck Jones can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.