BALTIMORE – The Toronto Blue Jays don’t expect Roberto Osuna’s absence to extend beyond the 10 days he must spend on the disabled list, and setup man Jason Grilli is “the ideal guy” to front their planned mix and matching until the closer’s return.
“There are going to be times when we piece it together, see what it takes to get to that ninth inning, hopefully with some leads,” manager John Gibbons said Monday ahead of the season opener against the Baltimore Orioles. “Grilli would be the ideal guy, he’s done it before, out of that group down there. (Joe) Biagini could close out some games, he’s got the stuff to do it, he’s got the confidence now. Sometimes we’ll have to roll the dice, too.”
Osuna, placed on the DL Sunday retroactive to April 1, threw in the outfield before the game as he tries to work through a bout of neck stiffness described by the club as a cervical spasm. He pitched three times in the past week – his first action against big-leaguers since a couple of appearances for Mexico at the World Baseball Classic – but his velocity topped out at 93 m.p.h. That was a factor, but not the sole determiner of the decision to place him on baseball’s new 10-day disabled list.
“It’s more that (the stiffness) just hasn’t gotten out of there,” said general manager Ross Atkins. “It’s not a complete shutdown but a shift in his routine and not a ramp up. There will be a lot less intensity because he’s not having to get ready going into a game. We felt like with a moderate continuation of his development and build-up of spring training that we had a better chance to have him put his best foot forward the day he pitches.”
Atkins added that the Blue Jays don’t think Osuna will need a rehab assignment before he returns and that they could create a pitching environment to help get him ready, if needed.
Osuna is eligible for activation on April 11.
“To be honest, I think once 10 days are up he’ll be good to go,” said Gibbons. “We weren’t dead set on putting him on there. We just said, ‘You know what, it’s probably the smart thing to do at the beginning of the season.’ It wasn’t like we looked at it and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do this.’
“So he’ll continue to get his work in, get his treatment, whatever they’ve got planned for him and he should be good to go as soon as that’s up.”