Astros still struggling to justify Roberto Osuna trade as closer officially joins roster

Roberto Osuna is officially back on a Major League Baseball roster. The closer joined the Houston Astros on Sunday after the team announced he “willfully and successfully completed his MLB domestic violence program requirements.”

Never mind that Osuna hasn’t admitted guilt or remorse, or that the legal issues are ongoing.

The Astros would like to believe all the drama surrounding their acquisition of the 23-year-old righty is behind them. They’ve talked at length about how serious they take the domestic violence allegations and the intense due diligence done by the front office before completing a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for the relief pitcher. They held a team meeting with owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow to prep the clubhouse on Osuna’s arrival. And they are fooling themselves if they think that is the end of it.

For as long as Roberto Osuna is on the Houston Astros, for as long as he steps on a Major League mound really, the stigma of domestic violence will be with him. It will be with the team he plays for and the city that team represents.

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Roberto Osuna through the years
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Roberto Osuna through the years
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 18: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after getting the last out of the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 18, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 27: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the tenth inning during an MLB game against the Chicago White Sox on May 27, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 5: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates their victory with Russell Martin #55 during MLB game action against the Houston Astros on June 5, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Toronto, Canada - July 17 - Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) pitches the last inning to save a game during MLB action against the Tampa Bay Rays in Toronto at the Rogers Centre on July 17, 2015. (Cole Burston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
July 30, 2015: Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) [10105] celebrates after the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 07: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 7, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 2-1 after ten innings. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 28, 2015 - Jays reliever Roberto Osuna hugs catcher Dioner Navarro after earning another save. Toronto Blue Jays vs Detroit Tigers in MLB action at Rogers Centre on AUGUST 28, 2015. Jays win the opener of the series, 5-3. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 1: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays enters the game from the bullpen to pitch the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Cleveland Indians on September 1, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 12: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers in game four of the American League Division Series at Globe Life Park in Arlington on October 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
October 19, 2015: Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) [10105] prior to ALCS Game 3 between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23: Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) works the 8th inning. Toronto Blue Jays Vs Kansas City Royals in Game 6 of the ALCS at Kauffman Field. Jays lose 4-3 and lose the series 4-2. Kansas City goes on to the World Series against the New York Mets. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, ON- FEBRUARY 25: Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna throws in the bullpen.Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training for the 2016 Major League Baseball Season in Bobby Mattick Training Center at Englebert Complex in Dunedin. February 25, 2016. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 9: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off the mound and towards the dugout after giving up the go-ahead run in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles on June 9, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JULY 6 - Jay's reliever Roberto Osuna gives thanks as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. July 6, 2016. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 8: (EDITORS NOTE: Multiple exposures were combined in camera to produce this image.) Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 8, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 21: Closing pitcher Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 12: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays laughs as he realizes he began his celebration prematurely in the ninth inning during MLB game action as he faces Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays on September 12, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays works against the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- OCTOBER 8 - Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna watch batting practice as Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers prepare to play game three on Sunday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. October 8, 2016. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 21: RHP Roberto Osuna. Toronto Blue Jays start the day early with Photo Day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 21: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates after a victory against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 21, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. Toronto won the game 3-1. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 26 - Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays wears a nickname jersey during the 9th inning of MLB action as the Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Minnesota Twins 10-9 at Rogers Centre on August 26, 2017. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 28: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets ready to pitch in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre on April 28, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Roberto Osuna
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 28: Roberto Osuna #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays talks to Luke Maile #21 on the mound in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre on April 28, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Roberto Osuna;Luke Maile
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As an organization, the Astros are seemingly fine with this, having done enough mental gymnastics to justify the talent Osuna adds to the roster to withstand the negative headlines that will follow. Little can be done to change their thinking at this point. That doesn’t mean the conversation surrounding domestic violence, professional athletes and the moral obligations of MLB franchises should stop. On the contrary, this is precisely where the baseball community must will it forward.

Through numerous statements and media sessions, the Astros have made their position clear:

“We welcome being held accountable for all of our personnel decisions,” Houston announced in a press release on Osuna’s return Sunday. “Time will tell which ones were right and wrong.”

“Make no bones about it — domestic violence allegations are bad.” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the media. “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.”

“We feel comfortable giving Roberto a second chance.” Luhnow added.

What happens next will be a familiar pattern: Osuna will pitch, likely well, because he is no doubt talented on the mound. The Astros will continue to win, because they were the reigning World Series champions even before Osuna joined them. The controversy will return to the spotlight in October, when fans and broadcasters will have to confront the issue again.

If the Astros are willing to be held accountable for their personnel decisions, then the onus falls on the baseball community at-large to keep the conversation going. To not become numb. To push through the uncomfortable questions and awkward silences. To lift up the victims of domestic violence, because they are the ones who deserve the attention, not baseball players.

Instead of repeating the same stories and controversies about the allegations surrounding Osuna (he’s due back in court on Sept. 5), baseball has an opportunity to show it will not shy away from difficult conversations or actions come October. But it won’t do so willingly. It will follow its fanbase — and those fans must be the ones to stand up and say they deserve better.

It won’t be done through boycotting games, though some may call for it. And it won’t be done through arguments on social media, though there will be plenty.

The Astros have said they are engaged with Houston Area Women’s Center, Texas Council on Family Violence and National Network to End Domestic Violence. It’s time baseball fans pay every bit as much attention to these organizations and their words as they do limp statements put out by their favorite team.

The Astros would like you to separate the Osuna allegations from the player he is. It’s an easy way out of an ugly mess and cognitive dissonance at its worst.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month with the NNEDV’s Week of Action culminating on Oct. 23 — the same day Major League Baseball is scheduled to play the first game of the 2018 World Series.

Don’t let this just be a coincidence. Make it a statement. Continue the conversation.

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Blake Schuster is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at blakeschuster@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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