KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna says that ongoing issues with anxiety kept him out of Friday's 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Osuna spoke through a team translator on Saturday before Toronto's second game of a three-game series in Kansas City. He wasn't available to play the previous night despite the Blue Jays holding a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. The Royals scored three runs against Toronto relievers Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup and Jason Grilli to rally for the win.
This has nothing to do with me being on the field, I feel great out there. It's .. when I'm not on the field, that I feel weird and a little bit lost.
"This has nothing to do with me being on the field, I feel great out there," said Osuna, brim of his ballcap pulled down over his eyes as he spoke to reporters. "It's just when I'm out of baseball, when I'm not on the field, that I feel weird and a little bit lost."
He was asked if he'd ever felt this way before and, circumventing the translator he replied: "Never."
Paddy Steinford, the Blue Jays' mental performance coach who travels with the team, has been working with Osuna to overcome his anxiety.
The 22-year-old Osuna has 19 saves with 37 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched this season. He became the youngest player in Major League Baseball to reach 75 career saves with his 19th of the season. He was uncertain whether he could pitch Saturday.
"I'm going to try, but nothing is for sure," he said. "We'll see."
Plenty of fans offered their support online, expressing their admiration for Osuna's honesty.
Roberto Osuna speaking publicly about anxiety is very courageous and heart warming. He will inspire many to do the same. #BlueJays— Kevin McIntosh (@theeKMc) June 24, 2017
Good luck to Roberto Osuna. Anyone can struggle.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) June 24, 2017
Not uncommon in high performers, or anyone, really. Best to Osuna and appreciate him speaking out on this topic. https://t.co/yPsJkkZPTd— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) June 25, 2017
Well-known sports broadcaster Michael Landsberg, whose #SickNotWeak campaign encourages people to speak out about mental illness in the same way they would about physical illness, pointed out exactly how relatable this is.
Despite the fast start to his career, Osuna's not sure what he can do to improve his mental health.
"I wish I knew how to get out of here and how to get out of this," said Osuna through the translator. "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."
UPDATE: Osuna pitched in Sunday's game against the Kansas City Royals, striking out three hitters in the ninth inning.
"I felt really good and I felt better than yesterday and the day before," Osuna said through a translator. "I'm just ready to work on that and get over it."
I really appreciate the support of the people, but I have other stuff to think about right now. I just thank the fans for that.
He also acknowledged the support he'd received since Friday night.
"I didn't read everything, but I hear about it," he said. "I really appreciate the support of the people, but I have other stuff to think about right now. I just thank the fans for that, but I'm just trying to work on that by myself.
"I'm just trying to do my best when I go out there and I'm trying to follow directions, whatever the doctors and trainers here tell me to do. I just follow directions and hopefully it's going to get better," he said.
— With files from The Associated Press and Rebecca Zamon