Roberto Osuna was activated on Sunday from his 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, joining the Houston Astros, with the player and team trying desperately to save face in an ugly situation.
The Astros acquired Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline in a 3-for-1 deal. The 23-year-old right-hander hasn’t pitched since May 6, after which he was arrested and charged for assault. He was placed on administrative leave by the MLB commissioner’s office, then on June 22 was suspended 75 games, a penalty Osuna both accepted and agreed not to appeal.
A court date is set for Sept. 5 in Toronto.
After acquiring Osuna, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday in a statement, “We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavious, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.”
Osuna’s attorney Domenic Basile clarified Luhnow’s use of “remorseful” regarding his client.
“I think he’s remorseful that the circumstances are what they are,” Basile said on Wednesday, per the Associated Press. “But at the end of the day in the criminal court ... his intention is to plead not guilty.”
Osuna was activated on Sunday, the earliest date he could be activated, and the Astros released another statement:
“Our decision to acquire Roberto was based on the entirety of information that we gathered during our extensive evaluation. That included as much information as we could gather about the specific incident and the charges that were filed but it also included as much information as we could gather about his actions before and after the incident, as well as his personal reputation among his former teammates and coaches. The information regarding this specific incident weighed heavily on our decision but when evaluating the entirety of the information, we felt Roberto deserved a second chance.”
The second chance for Osuna contrasts with the club’s “zero tolerance” policy, which Luhnow further muddied on Monday, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo:
“Quite frankly,” Luhnow said, “I believe that you can have a zero-tolerance policy and also have an opportunity to give people second chances when they have made mistakes in the past in other organizations. That’s kind of how we put those two things together.”
On Sunday before the Astros’ series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Osuna and Luhnow met with reporters, as did Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
More Hinch: "Make no bones about it — domestic violence allegations are bad. Domestic violence is bad. All of us as humans know that and believe that. And so we have to figure out a way to separate those feelings versus the additional opportunity he is getting on our club."— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) August 5, 2018
The Astros’ “zero tolerance” policy applies now that Osuna is in the organization, as the team’s Sunday statement noted:
“We are now focused on ensuring that Roberto makes a positive impace off the field while he is a member of the Houston Astros. We are providing Roberto with the benefit of a great clubhouse and organization as a supportive environment for this fresh start. We welcome being held accountable for all of our personnel decisions. Time will tell which ones were right and wrong. We believe that Roberto will not let us down. If there is any type of issue in the future, we will take immediate and decisive action — it will not be tolerated.”