Jays pitcher Osuna charged with assault, placed on administrative leave

By The Canadian Press, News Staff

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball Tuesday after being charged with assault.

The league said it was investigating the circumstances of the charges in accordance with the joint domestic violence policy between the league and the MLB Players Association.

Toronto Police said Osuna will appear in court June 18, but wouldn’t provide more details.

The administrative leave, which is not considered discipline by MLB, is a seven-day period that gives the league time to investigate. But Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said the length of the leave will be fluid.

“It depends on the investigation, it depends on the information that comes,” Atkins told media before Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre.

“I think there are scenarios where this leave could be extended, it could be shortened, it could be seven days. The seven days is a default. … (it depends) on the investigation whether that turns into more.”

Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on a domestic violence policy in 2015. It allows the league to discipline a player for an alleged domestic violence incident regardless of whether it results in a trial.

Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman was the first player to be disciplined under the terms of the policy when the league suspended him for the first 30 games of the 2016 season for an alleged incident on Dec. 7, 2015. Days later, shortstop Jose Reyes was suspended for the first 51 games of the 2016 season for an alleged incident.

“I think what we’ve seen over the years is Major League Baseball has taken very strong stances on situations like this one,” Atkins said.

“We support Major League Baseball in that effort and we respect everything they’ve done not just to heighten awareness but to understand that this is much more than baseball, it’s much bigger than just coming out here and trying to beat the Seattle Mariners.”

Both Atkins and manager John Gibbons said they had spoken with Osuna at the ballpark earlier in the day, though neither would get into specifics about their conversations.

There was a half-empty water bottle at Osuna’s locker, which was stocked with his uniforms and caps, hours before the game. Atkins said Osuna will not be around the team or at the stadium while he’s on leave.

The Blue Jays issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying they “fully support” MLB’s decision to place Osuna on leave and that they were “taking the matter extremely seriously, as the type of conduct associated with this incident is not reflective of our values as an organization.”

Atkins echoed that sentiment when speaking to media.

“As it relates to the allegations, to say that we don’t condone things of this nature is taking it very lightly,” he said. “Specifically as to our emotions and to get that type of information as an organization, it’s difficult to come up with words just to how seriously we are taking it.”

The 23-year-old Osuna is in his fourth MLB season, all with the Blue Jays.

The native of Juan Jose Rios, Mexico, has nine saves in 15 appearances this season with a 2.93 earned-run average and 13 strikeouts.

Toronto signed Osuna as an international free agent in 2011. He made his major league debut in 2015, cracking the roster out of spring training.

“Hopefully there’s nothing there,” Gibbons said before the game. “I love the kid not because of what he’s done for us on the field but because of who he is and my relationship with him over the years. But really in society in general there’s got to be zero tolerance. You’ve got to protect the vulnerable and those who can’t protect themselves a lot. Hopefully when it’s all said and done he’s back with us and it’s all behind him and things turn out fine.”

Gibbons said it remains to be seen who will take over the closer role.

“We’ll see how the games develop,” he said. “We got a few guys who can do it. (Tyler) Clippard, (Ryan) Tepera can do it, (Seunghwan) Oh can do it. Ax (John Axford) can even do it. Still feel pretty good about what’s down there.”

The Blue Jays started a six-game homestand Tuesday night against Seattle. The team had planned give away Osuna T-shirts to the first 15,000 fans attending Thursday’s series finale against the Mariners, but have changed the giveaway to shirts featuring infielder Yangervis Solarte.

The Blue Jays recalled right-hander Jake Petricka from triple-A Buffalo to take Osuna’s spot on the roster.

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