Osuna addresses new Astros teammates in closed-door meeting
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 06, 2018 08:48 AM
Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna is interviewed in the dugout before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. Osuna served a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
By Doug Padilla, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Roberto Osuna met his new Houston Astros teammates Sunday and addressed the club for 10 minutes in a closed-door meeting as he comes off a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.
The defending World Series champions acquired Osuna on Monday in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays while he was still serving his suspension. The All-Star closer was arrested and charged with assaulting his girlfriend May 8 in Toronto. No details have been made public and the next court date in the case is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Speaking with reporters in the dugout, Osuna offered few details about the morning meeting in the Astros' clubhouse at Dodger Stadium and did not discuss the case pending against him. Osuna was added to the active roster before Sunday's game against Los Angeles, with Houston pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. going on the 10-day disabled list due to elbow discomfort.
"I was very happy to meet them and very happy to be a part of this team and be a part of this World Series championship team," Osuna said through a translator. "I will do my best to win another World Series this year."
Asked if he could shed some light on why he was suspended, Osuna replied: "Not right now."
Astros manager AJ Hinch said he wouldn't hesitate to use Osuna, and would like to get the reliever into a game as soon as possible. The 23-year-old right-hander is the youngest pitcher to reach 100 major league saves.
Hinch said he didn't have any details about the domestic violence allegation, but takes the situation seriously.
"I think our club is very aware socially," Hinch said. "I think we are very aware of domestic violence and any negativity that brings. I will tell you universally this club has a hard time with domestic violence. This is bad. I want us to know that this is bad. Domestic violence is bad, allegations are bad and we take them very seriously. But we are not involved in the court case. We are not aware of any of the details and we will have to react and respond and deal with it accordingly as it comes up."
MLB handed Osuna the second-longest suspension since its domestic violence policy was enacted three years ago. The pitcher did not appeal.
When the Astros acquired Osuna from the Blue Jays before last Tuesday's trade deadline, the move raised eyebrows in the clubhouse and around baseball after Houston had previously stated its no-tolerance policy regarding domestic violence.
The team released minor leaguer Danry Vasquez last spring after surveillance video surfaced showing him assaulting a woman.
McCullers and fellow starting pitcher Justin Verlander were outspoken about their disgust on Twitter at that time.
Osuna is aware of the stir his acquisition has caused in Houston as he joins a team that supplied so much civic pride in the wake of last year's devastating floods triggered by Hurricane Harvey.
"I understand the situation (and) know it's a sensitive subject," Osuna said. "I understand the reaction they're going to have."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow sat with Osuna as he addressed the media Sunday morning and said the decision to add him to the team was essentially his. Luhnow said his hope is that Osuna's presence with the Astros can ultimately turn into a "positive thing."
"This was a tough decision," Luhnow said. "Everybody had different points of view, but ultimately, I'm the one that made the decision to make the trade. My focus was on giving Roberto a second chance. I understand that it was going to raise conversation and awareness of this topic, and I'm OK with that."
Luhnow's plan is to have Osuna speak to Astros minor league players about the pitfalls of being a young athlete, while also becoming active in the Houston community.
"While there's been a lot of negativity around it, I do ultimately believe that over the long haul we can turn this into a very positive event for our team, for Roberto personally, for everybody else that was affected, and for the community of Houston and our fan base," Luhnow said. "That's our goal. I think Roberto shares that goal, and we're going to have to earn that. We're not going to be able to say something today and have everybody believe that. But that's my honest aspiration for where this ends up."
Osuna sounded agreeable to Luhnow's vision.
"Of course," he said. "I'd like to put myself in a position to help people. I'm here to do what the organization tells me. This is an organization that has a good relationship with the city of Houston, and I'm going to do my best to do what I can."
Luhnow said the club did its due diligence in regard to Osuna's pending court case and "gathered whatever information we could." The club also sought out character references among former teammates and coaches.
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was asked if he welcomes Osuna's addition to the clubhouse.
"Yeah," Bregman said, before he paused.
"I don't really know what happened; I don't think anybody does," he added. "I think it's a tough situation. Until we kind of sort out the facts, and everybody knows . my dad's a defense attorney so until you're proven guilty of something you're innocent, as far as I'm concerned. I definitely believe in second chances and that's all I'm really going to say about this."
Luhnow also made a point to address female Astros fans who are struggling with the team's decision to add a player accused of domestic violence.
"I think the conversation is incredibly important and valuable," Luhnow said. "There are a lot of components to the conversation. We do need to have it, and it's a sticky conversation, the topic of any sort of alleged abuse, the topic of domestic violence. There's also some related topics of condemning someone with no information. I see a lot of that out there. There's not a lot of people that have real information about what happened or who the person is, and yet they're pretty quick to judge and condemn."
Hinch seemed aware that even though Osuna has joined the Astros, the controversy isn't expected to go away any time soon.
"We really don't know what to think or what to say or what to do and how to absorb all of this, but it's right in front of us," Hinch said. "We will do our best as a team and as a family and a group to help him navigate through this, to help ourselves to navigate through this and hopefully my hope for him is that he does take some of this culture, this vibe and the character on our team and absorb it to himself.
"I let him know, this team will make you a better person, it will make you a better player and it potentially can make you a championship player. Today is the first day of that."