Osuna battled a sore neck throughout most of Spring Training, and the initial expectation was that he would be ready for Opening Day. He pitched twice last week, but the discomfort never went away and has now resulted in a stint on the 10-day DL.
Toronto is expected to use a closer-by-committee during Osuna's absence. Veteran reliever Jason Grilli will receive some opportunities, while Joe Biagini is also a candidate for the ninth inning. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will weigh several factors when deciding who will close out games, but the good news is that this shouldn't be a long-term problem.
"Every day we have more information, and after he threw, he was feeling general tightness that just hasn't gone away," general manager Ross Atkins said Monday morning. "He has been feeling it for it some time, and I think we expected, he expected, for it to improve with him continuing to pitch. It didn't, so we felt like it was in his best interest and ours to see if we can get that completely out of there."
Osuna is not in complete shutdown mode. He went out to stretch with his teammates prior to Opening Day vs. Baltimore, and he'll likely continue to have a light catch in the coming days. For the moment, he won't throw a side session until the discomfort in his neck has completely subsided. The expectation is that Osuna will not require a rehab assignment and that he'll be available for the home opener vs. Milwaukee on April 11.
Grilli and Biagini will get some chances, and they both got into Monday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles but experienced much different results. Biagini tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, while Grilli tossed a scoreless inning of his own until Baltimore's Mark Trumbo unloaded on an 81 mph slider and sent it over the wall in left field for a walk-off homer.
Despite the results, Monday's outings likely won't factor into Toronto's decision on who gets the ninth inning. The Blue Jays might need to use Biagini in a multi-inning setup role, while the fact that Grilli touched 95 mph on the radar gun on Opening Day has those in the organization feeling confident about his abilities.
"Grilli would be the ideal guy," Gibbons said. "He's done it before. I think Biagini could close out some games. He's got the stuff to do it. He's got the confidence."
As for that slider?
"It was obviously not a good one," Grilli said. "Make a mistake and pay for it. This is the big leagues, and there's no more practice rounds. This is for real. He did what he's supposed to do with it. I tip my cap. I made a bad pitch, he hit it out."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.