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Osuna 'outstanding' so far at Spring Training

Pitching coach Walker impressed with closer's offseason work
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays have been holding official spring workouts for less than a week, but pitching coach Pete Walker is already excited about what he has seen from closer Roberto Osuna.

Osuna is coming off a rollercoaster of a season. On one hand, he set a career high with 39 saves. On the other, Osuna's ERA was almost a full run higher than the previous year, and he blew 10 save opportunities, including seven in the second half of the season

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays have been holding official spring workouts for less than a week, but pitching coach Pete Walker is already excited about what he has seen from closer Roberto Osuna.

Osuna is coming off a rollercoaster of a season. On one hand, he set a career high with 39 saves. On the other, Osuna's ERA was almost a full run higher than the previous year, and he blew 10 save opportunities, including seven in the second half of the season

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Osuna experienced a slight drop in velocity last season. Additionally, he revealed his battle with anxiety in June. However, he's looking to close the door on a challenging season this spring. He bulked up a little bit over the winter, and Walker believes this is the best he has ever seen Osuna this early in camp.

Video: Outlook: Osuna has skills to rank among elite closers

"There were a couple of things, mechanically," Walker said of last year's struggles. "I think, physically, he was down a bit in weight. There were some things that were shared publicly, but his stuff was still good. His velo was down for a little while, and he maybe used that cutter a little bit too much at one point during the season. But he came in, in great shape, he's actually put on some size and it's about commanding the fastball. He looks outstanding so far."

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Osuna ranks in the top 10 in workload for relievers over the past three years combined, but the Blue Jays don't expect to make too many changes in how often he takes the mound. The native of Mexico tossed at least 64 innings during each of his big league seasons, and that's probably not going to change anytime soon, because he has to be the anchor at the back end of Toronto's bullpen.

"He's our Major League closer," Walker said. "We know his workload and what he can handle. Certainly we want to watch him. He's still early in his career. He has some valuable experience early, but we have a good feel for what he needs to do and keep him on the field at this point."

Video: Outlook: Stroman to be an effective AL starter in '18

Submarine style

Right-hander Marcus Stroman has been openly talking about occasionally dropping down this season to throw sidearm. It's the latest addition to his unorthodox set of mechanics that is designed to alternate speed with long pauses and hitches to mess with hitters' timing.

Walker has heard some of that talk, but he has yet to see it in person so he's withholding judgement for now. His priority is not on any of Stroman's new quirks, but instead on getting him ready for the start of the year.

"He hasn't used it yet for me," Walker said of the submarine delivery. "I've heard about it, but he hasn't broken it out in side [sessions] yet. We're concentrating on getting his stuff to where it needs to be at this point, and that's something we can discuss down the road."

On the docket

The Blue Jays will hold their first official full-squad workout on Monday morning at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Toronto's position players reported for their physicals on Sunday morning, and they are now set to join the pitchers and catchers on the Minor League side.

Toronto will hold live batting practice along with some fielding drills over the next three days before opening its Grapefruit League season on Friday afternoon at Dunedin Stadium vs. the Phillies.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Roberto Osuna