TOR@PIT: Delabar induces groundout to preserve lead

DETROIT -- Last year, Steve Delabar was one of the most reliable relievers in baseball, but this season, the Blue Jays are still waiting for that dominating force to establish himself.

Delabar's velocity has dipped a bit this season, but even more alarming has been the lack of control. The walks are up, the strikeouts are down and the once overpowering reliever is no longer such a sure thing.

None of that is to suggest Delabar won't be able to turn things around in the relatively near future, but the prolonged struggles of the 2013 All-Star certainly haven't gone unnoticed by manager John Gibbons.

"He's not locating his fastball, and walking too many guys," Gibbons said. "Might be feeling for it a little bit. A lot of times that will happen when you start walking guys, try to start guiding it a little bit, and it works totally the opposite."

There has been plenty of talk recently about Delabar's decreased velocity, but the numbers would suggest it's not as drastic as some would lead you to believe. According to Brooks Baseball, Delabar averaged 95.53 mph on his four-seam fastball last season, and this year he's slightly down to 94.59.

The loss of even one mph is less than ideal, but it's also something that Delabar should be able to overcome. The bigger issue has been the inconsistent command as Delabar has walked 1.2 more batters and struck out 4.7 fewer per nine innings this season.

Delabar has walked at least one batter in seven of his past 11 outings. Those issues surfaced again on Tuesday night as he walked two before eventually giving up a three-run homer with two outs to J.D. Martinez.

"He says he feels fine," Gibbons said when asked if there were any health concerns. "He competes, he keeps competing. [A lot of relievers] hit stretches and it's not as easy as it used to be, but they still get back on track."

Blue Jays to host clinic to raise funds for Sheppard

DETROIT -- The Blue Jays Baseball Academy and the Whitby Minor Baseball Association will host a one-day instructional clinic in July to help raise funds for a young boy who is dealing with a very serious medical condition.

Ben Sheppard is an 8-year-old who lives with left hemiplegic spastic cerebral palsy. The condition causes a lot of tightness and spasticity in Sheppard's muscles, and as he gets older the ability to move around becomes even more difficult.

A relatively new surgical procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) has been recommended. It's performed by Dr. T.S. Park, most effectively at the St. Louis Children's Hospital, but the family needs some additional financial support and that's one reason why the one-day clinic was created.

"Ben's dream is very simple, he wants to walk pain-free so he is able to play baseball with other kids," said Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who will be one of the camp instructors. "After understanding Ben's passion for baseball, it was a very easy decision to get involved and lend a helping hand to him and his family."

The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET and registration is open to both male and female players ages 6 to 15. Each participant will receive a Blue Jays hat, Blue Jays T-shirt, and an Alomar pro style 12-inch baseball glove.

The cost of the clinic is $80 per participant, with all funds raised being donated to help support the proposed surgery. In addition, Honda Canada will match all registration fees generated from the clinic with a one-time monetary contribution.

Toronto Blue Jays alumni will act as the camp instructors and will receive assistance from local WMBA coaches. Instructors include: Alomar, Carlos Delgado, Devon White, Duane Ward, Tom Henke, Alex Gonzalez, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby, and Paul Quantrill.

The Sheppard family has established a fund-raising goal of $100,000 to help offset the costs involved for: surgery, travel, accommodations and physiotherapy. If you cannot attend the clinic, you can also donate to Ben Sheppard's proposed surgery fund at bluejays.com/HelpBenRunTheBases.