I recently had the chance to sit down with Tulsa Drillers outfielder Delta Cleary Jr., who entered games of June 4 batting .258 with one homer and 13 RBIs. He has also piled up nine stolen bases.
We spoke during the 2013 season, and I wanted to get an update from Cleary on his offseason preparation and where he sees the 2014 version of the Drillers heading.
Henry: When you heard you were coming back to Tulsa for the second straight season, what was your thought process?
Cleary: I was prepared to come back. I knew what I did last year (.207, two homers, 29 RBIs) and I thought I would probably be back here again. I knew what I did, and I wanted another chance to prove myself.
Henry: So what was your focus coming into this season?
Cleary: At the plate, I just wanted to be consistent and not try to do too much. Every day is a learning experience. There’s not a day that I come to the park that I think I have everything figured out. Every day, it’s trying to understand how they’re going to pitch me and I’ve really been trying to improve and be a student of the game.
Henry: You’ve been hitting out of the 9-hole most games this season. That’s a change for you. How do you like it?
Cleary: I feel very comfortable there. I really like it. To me, it’s just another leadoff spot. With Taylor (Featherston) and Cristhian (Adames) usually batting as the 1-2 hitters, I know what they’re going to do and I know that if I can get on base, they’re going to bring me around to score.
Henry: Your one homer this year was a doozy, right down the right field line and out onto Elgin Avenue. Did you know it was gone the minute you hit it?
Cleary: Out of the seven years I’ve been playing in the minors, that was one of the furthest balls I have ever hit. I knew immediately it was gone.
Henry: What similarities and differences do you see between this year’s Drillers team and last year’s?
Cleary: Last year was a great team. I think we all learned from each other last year and the guys who returned this year came back with that knowledge. It was a learning experience for us last year, and it’s a learning experience this year for the guys who are just getting to Double-A. We’re all getting to know each other and trust each other. I really think this year’s group can be special.