TORONTO — Getting the opportunity to be a teammate of stars such as Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Miller, even for just a day, means everything to Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna.
The 22-year-old was among seven replacement players selected on Friday for next week’s all-star game in Miami.
“Being able to be in that game with those guys — Kimbrel, Miller — they’re superstars,” Osuna said. ”For me, it’s a dream that come true.
“Only thing I’ve got on my mind is go out there, enjoy it and have some fun.”
Osuna, in his third campaign with Toronto, has 22 saves this season with a 2.06 earned-run average in 37 games. The Mexico native struggled to start the season with three blown saves in four opportunities, but has racked up 21 consecutive saves since.
His latest came on Thursday night in the Jays’ 7-4 win over the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre. His run of consecutive converted opportunities ties him with Billy Koch for the fourth longest save streak in franchise history.
“He deserved to go anyway,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said before Friday night’s game against the Astros. “There’s a lot of good ones out there but it’s good to get some recognition.
“I’ve always had a feeling anyway before his career is set and done here that he’ll be there many a times. But it’s a great honour to be such a young kid, accomplish what he’s accomplished here at such a young age, it’s got to be rewarding.”
Osuna will join starting first baseman Justin Smoak on the American League squad Tuesday night. It will be the first all-star appearance for both players. Osuna will also be the youngest Blue Jay to appear in an all-star game at 22 years, 154 days. Dave Stieb was previously the youngest when he played in the 1980 Midsummer Classic (22 years, 352 days).
The six-foot-two, 215-pound right-hander said that the announcement came as a surprise as he was planning on going home with family on Sunday.
Several Blue Jays teammates approached Osuna in the clubhouse before batting practice to shake his hand or give him a congratulatory hug. Osuna said that he also received a text message from catcher Russell Martin.
“I dreamed about it when I was younger, obviously, and to have the pleasure to be in the all-star game now means everything for me,” Osuna said.
Osuna told reporters in late June that ongoing issues with anxiety kept him out of a save opportunity against the Kansas City Royals. But he said on Friday that he’s currently feeling good.
“I’m really happy because the all-star game is all I’ve got on my mind now,” he said. ”Go out there with my family, have a good time and just continue to do my job.”
Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano, Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer, Houston reliever Chris Devenski, Minnesota reliever Brandon Kintzler and Detroit outfielder Justin Upton also were added to the AL roster. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood was added to the NL all-stars.
Three of the original all-stars are on the disabled list and won’t be active for the game: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro and Houston pitcher Dallas Keuchel.
Four pitchers on the all-star rosters won’t be active because they are scheduled to start Sunday: the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Texas’ Yu Darvish, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Detroit’s Michael Fulmer.