Seeking late-inning job, Delabar back to basics

Seeking late-inning job, Delabar back to basics

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Steve Delabar finds himself in the unusual position of having to compete for a roster spot after two years when he was essentially guaranteed a job coming out of camp.

Pitchers without guaranteed jobs in Spring Training often have to walk a fine line. On one hand, they may need to work on a particular pitch or specific location, even if that means sacrificing some initial results. On the other, those same pitchers need to impress the many eyes that will be watching them in camp.

It's not an easy task, but Delabar doesn't seem too bothered about it. He accepts it as part of the process in his goal of getting back to being a late-inning reliever.

"If I was locked in as the go-to guy in the 'pen or if I'm the last guy in camp, I'm here to compete," Delabar said after his spring debut. "I always say I'm going to put more pressure on myself than any staff member here, because we all want to be perfect every time out.

"You could throw 24 out of 25 pitches and hit your spot, but you're going to talk about the one you didn't. So the idea is to practice for perfect, and then get the job done. Competing and all of that comes along with it."

The Blue Jays could have as many as four jobs up for grabs in the bullpen this spring, and almost everyone in the organization is hoping Delabar puts his claim on one of them. The process started on Tuesday in Toronto's 8-7 loss to Pittsburgh.

Delabar allowed one run on two hits, walking one and striking out one -- but his pitching line was deceiving. The run scored when Dalton Pompey lost a routine fly ball in the sun that landed in left field for a double. Those type of things happen in the spring, and that's why the process is as important as the performance.

Alvarez's RBI double

The first thing Delabar works on every spring is keeping his fastball down in the zone. He then looks to add command to both sides of the plate, with his secondary pitches falling in line during the second half of camp. In that regard, it was an encouraging start; Delabar worked at 94 mph and hit 95 at least once, putting his fastball in pretty good locations.

"If the ball gets up, it doesn't matter how fast it is, it's going to get hit," Delabar said. "Fastball down, fastball location, coming later into games you're going to have to spot up a little better. That just comes with a little more reps and work, and then we'll get to that point."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.