A few seconds after addressing the media on the Rogers Centre infield Tuesday afternoon, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins put his head down and sighed.
“Tough day,” he said quietly.
It was that.
Hours before, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning in fact, Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with assault and has, temporarily at least, left the team.
As first reported in the Toronto Sun
, the 23-year-old is scheduled to appear in court on June 18 and will appear at Old City Hall. A source close to the Toronto police said the charge is the result of a domestic incident, reportedly involving his girlfriend.
In a release, the Blue Jays said: “We are aware of the incident involving Roberto and fully support the decision by the Commissioner’s Office to place him on administrative leave. We are taking the matter extremely seriously, as the type of conduct associated with this incident is not reflective of our values as an organization. As this remains an ongoing investigation by Toronto Police, the club will not comment further on the matter.”
Atkins, though, did speak prior to the Jays’ game against the Seattle Mariners.
“Obviously, as it relates to the investigation, there’s very little we can comment on,” said Atkins. “As it relates to the allegations, to say that we don’t condone things of this nature is saying it very lightly. As an organization, it’s difficult to come up with words as to how seriously we are taking it.”
Jays manager John Gibbons talked to Osuna Tuesday morning, but wouldn’t comment as to how the righthander was doing.
“This is our profession,” said Gibbons. “But you’re taking about life here. Not just his life, but other people involved, which far out-weighs (baseball) stuff.
“You’re dealing with human beings, regardless of walk of life,” Gibbons added. “Hopefully there’s nothing there. I love the kid, not for what he’s done for us on the field, but because who he is and my relationship with him over the years. But really in society … there’s got to be a zero tolerance policy. You’ve got to protect the vulnerable and those who can’t protect themselves (so much). But hopefully when it’s all said and done, when he’s back with us, it’s behind him.”
When asked by a reporter how Osuna was holding up, Gibbons snapped: “That’s none of your business. Is that your business?”
The Jays recalled right-handed pitcher Jake Petricka from Buffalo to fill the roster spot.
Prior to his arrest, the Blue Jays had planned to host a Roberto Osuna T-shirt promotion at the Rogers Centre for the team’s game against the Mariners on Thursday night. That won’t happen now.
In terms of how long he may be out, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced an agreement on Aug. 21, 2015 on a Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy to cover Major League players.
Under the policy, MLB may place a player accused of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while the allegations are investigated before making a disciplinary decision. The agreement contains procedures for a player to immediately challenge that placement before the Arbitration Panel.
“Basically the seven days is a default, it could be that he’s active before that or it could be that it is extended depending on the investigation, whether that turns into more,” said Atkins. “What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is Major League Baseball has taken very strong stances on situations like this one. The punishments have been strong in cases of guilty and not guilty. We support (MLB) in that effort, I appreciate and respect everything they’ve done to not just heighten awareness but to understand that this is much more than baseball, is much bigger than just coming out here and trying to beat the Seattle Mariners.”
In 15 appearances for the Jays this season, Osuna has a 2.93 ERA with nine saves. His absence leaves a huge void for a team trying to make it into the playoffs this season.
“Naturally, he’s our guy down there. But you just deal with it.” said Gibbons.
“We’ll see how the game develops, see what it takes to get to that ninth inning,” the manager added when asked who will close in Osuna’s absence. “We’ve got a few guys who can do it. (Ryan) Tepera could do it. (Seung-hwan) Oh could do. Ax (John Axford) could even do it. We still feel pretty good about what’s down there.”
Oh and Axford have closed at the MLB level before, and both are having good seasons.
“That’s big,” Gibbons said.
Last season was a trying one for Osuna.
The native of Juan Jose Rios, Mexico finished the season with 39 saves, a 3.38 ERA, a 3-4 record and 83 strikeouts in 64 innings and was named to the all-star team. He also recorded 10 blown saves, the most in the majors and the third most in club history. He also suffered from undisclosed personal issues and left the team for a short while in September because he had just become a father.