Jays GM Atkins not worried about Osuna
CLEARWATER, FLA. — Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins firmly believes that too many people were closed-minded about the club’s closer Roberto Osuna last season — and may have pushed the panic button prematurely.
In many ways, Osuna had a great year. He was added to the All-Star Game, was tied for fourth in MLB in saves (39) and became the first player in franchise history to record back-to-back seasons with at least 35 saves. All at the age of 22.
However, Osuna also led the Majors in blown saves with 10, and missed some time mid-season with undisclosed anxiety issues, also leaving the team for a spell near the end of the season to return to his native Mexico because he had just become a father.
But Atkins feels the blown saves and the anxiety issues were overblown and he fully expects Osuna to blossom again in 2018.
“You know it’s interesting about Roberto,” said Atkins. “He had a great year, he had one of the better years of all the relievers in baseball and I think a lot of attention got placed on the blown saves and a lot of attention got placed on the discussions in and around the game he didn’t pitch in Kansas City. But if you look at the strike outs, the lack of walks, the lack of hits, he’s such a remarkable late-inning, elite reliever that ... man we’re very glad he’s here. We’re very glad he’s a Toronto Blue Jay and extremely excited about his future.”
Atkins is hesitant to get into Osuna’s anxiety issues but believes he will be in a better place next year in dealing with it.
“It’s an uncomfortable topic, especially when you’re talking to thousands, millions of people (via the media),” Atkins said, adding that Osuna had some difficulty getting his feelings across as his English command is still an on-going process. “When you talk about a word like anxiety, and you’re speaking in your second language, sometimes things can me misinterpreted and misconstrued. But we are absolutely 100 per cent confident that Roberto Osuna is in an incredible mental state, incredible physical state and in a great overall mind-set to continue to be an elite professional pitcher.”
Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna ptiches in a game against the Seattle Mariners on June 10.