Dan's Dugout: Can Osuna Find Peace in Astros Clubhouse? • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Can Osuna Find Peace in Astros Clubhouse?


Most trade acquisitions in major league baseball don’t hold clubhouse meetings the minute they arrive.

Roberto Osuna is an exception to that rule.

Roberto Osuna had 39 saves last year for Toronto

He was completing a 75-game suspension for alleged domestic abuse when he was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the World Champion Houston Astros last week.

The 6’2′ Mexican righthander had established a reputation as one of the game’s best closers. The Astros almost blew the world championship last year because their bullpen proved erratic and unreliable. Closer Ken Giles, one of the chief culprits, continued to pitch poorly this year and was even returned the minors for a refresher course. It didn’t help.

The final straw was a heated exchange with Houston manager A.J. Hinch after the pilot decided to remove him from a game. Giles apparently used language we can’t reprint here.

With Osuna on the outs in Toronto and Giles persona non grata in Houston, the trade was a natural: your bad guy from mine.

Baseball history is filled with stories of players who just needed a change of scenery to get back on track. That is what both teams hope for here.

Giles, under no pressure to perform now that he’s light years from reaching the playoffs again, has a far easier task.

Osuna, on the other hand, has a mountain to climb if he wants to earn the trust and respect of his new teammates.

That’s why he agreed to hold that clubhouse meeting today.

Even before he arrived, the Astros talked about his acquisition. Owner Jim Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow, and Hinch held a closed-door session at Dodger Stadium Saturday.

The Astros hope their new pitcher provides much-needed relief

“I’m not going to get into the meeting today,” Hinch said afterward. “We have a lot to talk about. We wanted to get Jeff and Jim in the room with our players and begin a series of meetings we’re going to need to absorb all of this.”

Houston got Osuna in exchange for Giles, David Paulino, and Hector Perez on Monday.

His troubles began in early May when he was arrested in Toronto and charged with domestic assault. After a brief investigation by Major League Baseball, the pitcher was suspended.

Osuna’s 75-game suspension under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy ends Sunday.

No matter how he is received by his Houston teammates, the 23-year-old pitcher faces another reminder of his troubled season: a court date on Sept. 5. He plans to plead not guilty.

Not surprisingly, the acquisition of Osuna has sparked controversy, though not much from the Astros dugout, with most players saying they didn’t know enough about it. Hinch said his club is handling it well.

“We have a really good team, we have really good character on this team,” he said. “We have a good vibe. We’re one of the most enjoyable teams you can imagine. Our clubhouse is one of the favorites to come to work to every day. I think our guys love each other and do a great job blending with each other on a daily basis.”

A.J. Hinch and Ken Giles had their differences in Houston

Hinch said it’s important to not draw conclusions.

“It’s difficult on a personal level,” said the manager, who conferred with his new closer by phone after the trade was completed. “We are gathering information on a day-to-day basis. Roberto is going to be here. He’s going to be on our team. As a team, as a family, as a group, we’ll navigate this together.

“I’m his manager now. It’s important for me to get to know him and learn what makes him be the player that he can be and adjust along the way.”

Osuna worked 15 times for the Blue Jays this year, saving nine games with a 2.93 ERA. Last year, he made the American League All-Star team en route to 39 games and a 3.38 ERA. He has 104 lifetime saves.

Hinch hinted he may work Osuna back slowly – not necessarily annointing him as instant closer.

According to the Astros field general, “It doesn’t mean his first outing or second outing or 10th outing will be closing out a game. That’s a question I have to deal with over timeh.”

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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