Jays choose Osuna over Storen for closer role

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

Toronto Blue Jays righthander Roberto Osuna will keep his job as the team’s closer.

The 21- year- old held off a strong chal­lenge from re­liever Drew Storen, who was ac­quired from the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als last Jan­uary.

The team made the an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day morn­ing be­fore a pre- sea­son game against the Min­nesota Twins.

“I’m pretty happy to be in the ninth in­ning again,’’ said Osuna. “It’s about the con­fi­dence that ( pitch­ing coach) Pete Walker and the coach­ing staff, Gibby ( man­ager John Gib­bons), are giv­ing to me. That means a lot to me, and ob­vi­ously I’m go­ing to do my best.’’

Osuna was 1-6 with 20 saves and a 2.58 earned-run av­er­age in his rookie sea­son last year. Gib­bons said fa­mil­iar­ity with the 21-year-old Mex­i­can was a big part of keep­ing him on as closer.

Osuna is 1- 1 this spring with a 2.45 earned- run av­er­age wit a save and seven strike­outs over 7 1/ 3 in­nings pitched.

Storen, who the Jays ac­quired in an off- sea­son trade that sent out­fielder Ben Re­vere to Wash­ing­ton, was 0- 0 with a 3.86 ERA and two strike­outs over seven in­nings. He had 29 saves last year as a closer with the Na­tion­als.

“He’s fine, he said com­ing in ‘ what­ever role,’’’ Gib­bons said of Storen. “He’s very valu­able to us.’’

Storen will likely slot in as the set- up man in the eighth in­ning, but could be moved to closer if Osuna strug­gles early in his sec­ond sea­son. Gib­bons said the Jays will make ad­just­ments to the bullpen if needed.

“We’ll see how it shakes out,’’ he said.

The Blue Jays also an- nounced Eze­quiel Car­rera will be their fourth out­fielder and Ryan Tepera, Joe Bi­agini and Arnold Leon will fill out the re­main­ing bullpen spots.

Toronto opens its 2016 reg­u­lar sea­son Sun­day at Tampa Bay.

CP PHOTO

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna works against the Min­nesota Twins in the fifth in­ning of a spring train­ing base­ball game, Wed­nes­day.

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