Manfred defends MLB’s domestic violence policy in wake of Osuna case

Roberto Osuna (Mark Blinch/CP)

WASHINGTON – Rob Manfred described the possibility of Roberto Osuna pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays before the assault charge against him is resolved as something he “can live with” because it’s the product of baseball’s joint domestic violence policy.

Osuna’s next court date in relation to the alleged May 8 incident is Aug. 1, four days before he’s eligible to return from the 75-game suspension handed down by the baseball commissioner.

After his last hearing, July 9, Domenic Basile, Osuna’s lawyer, said it was “doubtful” that the case would be resolved by then, saying “it may take a little bit longer, it may take a lot longer.”

The 23-year-old has since started a rehab assignment and on Tuesday was promoted from the rookie league GCL Blue Jays to single-A Dunedin as he builds toward an Aug. 5 return in Seattle.

On At the Letters, Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling take fans inside the Blue Jays and around MLB with news, analysis and interviews.

Speaking during the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America all-star luncheon Tuesday, Manfred defended the policy and the possibility Osuna pitches before the assault charge is settled in court.

“Domestic violence cases are extraordinarily difficult, each one has a different fact pattern, you get involved with criminal things and you can’t control the timing,” said Manfred, praising deputy commissioner Dan Halem’s work in piecing the policy together with the players assocation. “We negotiated a domestic violence policy that has proved to be extraordinarily effective across a wide variety of circumstances. If in fact the application of that policy results in Roberto coming back to work after a very long suspension while there are still unresolved criminal proceedings, I can live with that result because that’s the policy we negotiated.

“You can’t take all the benefits of the policy and then turn around and say, gee, I don’t like the outcome in this case and therefore I’m going to do something else,” Manfred added. “It’s a product of the policy.”

The Blue Jays have already said Osuna will be welcomed back once he’s eligible, although manager John Gibbons added that he was “very disappointed in what happened” while expressing support for the all-star closer.

There were also some private player concerns that Major League Baseball issued the third-longest suspension ever for a domestic violence policy violation before the case had been settled in court.

But union head Tony Clark, also addressing BBWAA members, insisted the system worked as designed.

“To get to a point where there were conversations about discipline levied despite the fact that there may be some issues left unresolved, it doesn’t deter from the belief that the process played itself out and there was a willingness to levy discipline on the heels of a conversation and all those different steps in the process,” said Clark. “I believe that the process moved forward in the fashion that it should have. Each of these cases is challenging on their own merits but the process itself is consistent across the board and we believe in the process.”

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