KANSAS CITY — Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna says he’s been feeling “anxious” and “weird,” which is why he was unavailable to pitch for his team Friday night. He’s unsure if he’ll be available to pitch Saturday, either.
“I just feel a little bit anxious, a little bit weird. I’m just not myself right now,” Osuna said through Blue Jays interpreter Josue Peley. “I feel great physically. It’s just more mentally.”
The Blue Jays have yet to provide an official comment on what Osuna is experiencing. The club consistently does so when a player is unavailable to the team for physical reasons. A front office executive traveling with the team declined an interview request Saturday. The team’s head of mental performance also declined an interview request.
Toronto entered the bottom of the ninth inning of Friday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals with a three-run lead — a save situation. Normally, Osuna would pitch in those circumstances. He’s currently second in the American League with 19 saves, and recently became the youngest player in MLB history to record 75 in a career.
But the 22-year-old was not in the Blue Jays’ bullpen Friday, watching the game from the team’s dugout, wearing a blue hoodie. Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup, and Jason Grilli pitched the ninth instead, combining to allow four runs as the Royals walked off with a 5-4 victory.
After the game, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Osuna was “not feeling well” and refused to elaborate further. Osuna declined an interview request Friday night, but said Saturday morning that the reason he was unavailable was mental as opposed to physical.
“I don’t really know how to explain it. I just feel anxious. I feel like I’m lost a little bit right now,” Osuna said. “This has nothing to do with me being on the field. I feel great out there. It’s just when I’m out of baseball. When I’m not on the field, I feel just weird and a little bit lost.”
Osuna says he began feeling this way “a couple days” ago and that he hasn’t suffered from anything similar in the past.
“I wish I knew how to get out of this,” Osuna said. “We’re working on it. We’re trying to find ways to see what can make me feel better. But, to be honest, I just don’t know.”
The Blue Jays employ several sports psychologists and mental performance coaches. Toronto’s head of mental performance, Paddy Steinfort, is a fixture in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse and travels with the team regularly during the season. He has been working with Osuna to help him through this period.
Osuna said he was unsure if he would be available to pitch in Saturday’s game. He participated in the team’s pre-game on-field activities, catching fly balls in the outfield during batting practice.
“I’m going to try,” Osuna said. “But nothing is for sure. We’ll see.”