Blue Jays GM says Roberto Osuna’s injury isn’t serious
Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna warms up during spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. The Toronto Blue Jays finalized their opening day roster Sunday, placing Osuna on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins says the muscle problem that prompted the decision to place closer Roberto Osuna on the 10-day disabled list is not considered serious.
The move in advance of Toronto’s opening game of the 2017 season Monday afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles is viewed as the best move when taking into account the long-term health of the 22-year-old.
“We don’t see it as something serious,” Atkins said over the phone Monday morning, shortly after flying into Baltimore to join the team for the season opener. “At the same time, any time you have to put someone on the DL it’s less than ideal. It’s really muscular in nature. The words he’s using and the doctors are using is ‘tightness.’
“We really just felt as though we wanted to give him the best chance to get off to his best start possible. We felt like a little bit more time and rest to get that tightness and stiffness out of there would benefit him.”
The Blue Jays, in a news release issued on Sunday, described the injury as a cervical spasm.
Atkins said the pain that Osuna is feeling is concentrated mostly between his shoulders.
Osuna has been experiencing the problem for some time, Atkins said, and it was something he carried into the World Baseball Classic last month, where he pitched in a couple of games for the Mexican team.
Osuna has experienced a bit of a dip in his velocity during the spring, and the muscle soreness is believed to be the culprit.
“We’ll see if extra rest will allow us to get [the pain] completely out of there,” Atkins said. “Only time will tell.”
Atkins said the likely candidate to replace Osuna as the closer in the interim will be veteran Jason Grilli, who is 40. But that decision will ultimately fall to manager John Gibbons.
“I haven’t talked to Gibby about it this morning,” Atkins said. “Yesterday he said he was going to get together with the guys. I think if I were guessing, it would probably be Jason Grilli.
“I think we’re fortunate to have a couple guys as alternatives. Joe Smith has been back there before as a closer, Grilli’s done it. Joe Biagini’s done it for us last year. So we’re fortunate to have some alternatives.”
On Sunday, when the Blue Jays submitted their final 25-man roster, the club also made the decision to cut ties with Melvin Upton Jr., who finished last season as the everyday left fielder.
Instead, the club has decided to go with Ezequiel Carrera as the fourth outfielder, with Steve Pearce expected to start the year as the regular starter in left.
Atkins was evasive in explaining the reasoning behind the move, but he said it had nothing to do with Carrera being a left-handed bat in a heavily-right-handed lineup. Upton hits from the right side.
“Really we were just thinking of going with more versatility, not adding an additional right-handed power bat to an already very right-handed, very heavy lineup,” Atkins said. “So potentially subtract a left-handed one. As I mentioned, keeping a more versatile player, or more versatility in our lineup, was the reason that we made that decision.”
The decision to cut Upton allowed Toronto to keep left-handed-hitting utility infielder Ryan Goins, who is out of options, on the 25-man roster.
“You can figure it out,” Atkins said. “We were going for more versatility, years of control, and not right-handed.”