Jays GM Atkins not wor­ried about Osuna

The Welland Tribune - - SPORTS - STEVE BUFFERY

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.

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