July 31, 2018 / 2:53 AM / 21 days ago

Outspoken Verlander on new teammate Osuna: 'I just want to listen'

Not every player on the Houston Astros is planning a warm welcome for Roberto Osuna.

Jul 29, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) talks to teammates in the dugout during the game against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Quite the contrary, as the Astros reportedly held a team meeting Monday following the team’s trade for the Toronto Blue Jays’ suspended closer.

Osuna is serving a 75-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy in connection with an assault charge.

Osuna, 23, was arrested May 8 and charged with one count of assault in Toronto. He is slated to join the Astros in Los Angeles on Sunday, but Astros veteran Justin Verlander — outspoken in the past against players attached to domestic-violence incidents — is withholding his opinion until hearing more from Osuna.

“It’s a tough situation,” Verlander said to reporters. “I think the thing for us to remember here is that the details have not come to light. We don’t know the whole story. Obviously, I’ve said some pretty inflammatory things about stuff like this in the past. I stand by those words.”

Back in March, both Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers had angrily tweeted after a former member of the organization, Danny Vasquez, was involved in his own domestic-violence controversy.

“I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. You deserve all that is coming your way!” Verlander tweeted in March in response to surveillance video that showed Vasquez striking his girlfriend multiple times. Vasquez was later released by the organization.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and the Astros “reached out” to some members of the coaching staff and team to assess reaction to a possible deal for Osuna. Per the Chronicle, Carlos Correa said that second baseman Jose Altuve was one of the players whom the front office contacted before the deal. Correa, Verlander and Collin McHugh — the team’s player representative — were not contacted.

Verlander said he was unconcerned about not being consulted with, and he added that he would reserve judgment on Osuna for now.

“I just want to listen,” Verlander said. “We don’t know the details of much. I haven’t really paid attention to (Osuna’s legal case), for obvious reasons — it wasn’t really in my life. Now it is. That’s probably going to be a personal thing that stays in the locker room and won’t be talked about publicly, as those things are.”

Osuna can return to the majors on Aug. 5 and will be eligible for the postseason, as players suspended for domestic violence are eligible to play in the playoffs, unlike those banned under the league’s policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs.

“I am excited to join the Houston Astros and move forward with a fresh start to my career,” Osuna said about the trade in a press release. “The positive character of my new teammates is a big reason for their success and I look forward to bringing a positive contribution to this great group of guys as we work towards many more winning seasons. I thank Jeff Luhnow and the entire Astros organization for believing in me — I will not let them down.”

Luhnow issued a statement that read, in part, “The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.

“Roberto has some great examples of character in our existing clubhouse that we believe will help him as he and his family establish a fresh start and as he continues with the Houston Astros.”

Osuna was due in court on July 9 to offer a plea, but the date was rescheduled for Wednesday. He plans to plead not guilty to the charge, according to his lawyer.

Based on his $5.3 million salary for this year, the 75-game suspension will cost Osuna approximately $2.45 million.

—Field Level Media

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