The Toronto Blue Jays plan to use right-hander Roberto Osuna in his usual closer’s role when he becomes eligible to return to the team.
Major League Baseball has suspended Osuna through Aug. 4 for violating the league’s joint domestic-violence, sexual-assault and child-abuse policy. The 23-year-old pitcher is facing an assault charge and is scheduled to return to court on July 9.
“Roberto is our closer,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on Friday. “We’re running a baseball team and our goal is to win championships. Roberto could potentially be very much a part of that.
“I think the characteristic or the word that comes to mind for me when you talk about that is empathy. And that’s not just for Roberto, that’s for everyone involved. That’s where we’re going to spend our time and energy is on being empathetic and trying to understand. We don’t have a background in investigations.”
Osuna’s lawyer has said the pitcher intends to plead not guilty to the charge. The 75-game suspension, announced last week by MLB, was retroactive to May 8.
Osuna agreed not to appeal the suspension and will participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by the joint policy board of MLB and the players’ association, MLB said.
Osuna, who has been training at the Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin, Fla., is in his fourth season with Toronto. He has nine saves in 15 appearances this year with a 2.93 earned-run average over 15 1/3 innings.
The Blue Jays GM was also asked how he might weigh the potential impact of some Toronto fans being offended by Osuna’s return.
“It’s a balance for sure,” Atkins said. “It’s something that we take very seriously and we’ll forever take very seriously.