ESPN: Angels employee gave late pitcher opioids
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels say they don’t know whether a longtime public relations official had been providing drugs to late pitcher Tyler Skaggs, as detailed in a report Saturday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
Eric Kay, a 24-year employee of the Angels’ PR department, told the Drug Enforcement Agency he had provided opioids to Skaggs and used them with the pitcher for years, according to ESPN. Kay reportedly watched as Skaggs snorted three lines of crushed pills in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, on the night before he was found dead.
Kay also told the DEA he believes several other Angels players used opioids, ESPN reported.
“We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking illegal narcotics,” Angels President John Carpino said in a statement. “The Angels maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff. Every one of our players must also abide by the MLB Joint Drug Agreement. We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler and fully cooperate with the authorities as they continue their investigation.”
Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room July 1 before the start of a series against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.
Major League Baseball issued a brief statement: “MLB was unaware of any of these allegations. MLB will fully cooperate with the government investigation and conduct its own investigation when the government investigation is completed.”
Kay has been on administrative leave from the Angels since July, and ESPN reported he is undergoing outpatient drug treatment. Kay didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press.
Kay also claimed two Angels officials were aware of Skaggs’ drug use, including Kay’s longtime boss, Tim Mead, a 40-year Angels employee. Mead left the team in June to become president of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mead told ESPN he was unaware of Skaggs’ drug use.
ESPN says Kay told investigators he illegally obtained six oxycodone pills and gave three to Skaggs shortly before the team left Anaheim for its road trip to Texas.
MLB and the players’ union plan to discuss the possibility of implementing more widespread testing for opioids in the wake of Skaggs’ death.
Freese retires at 36
LOS ANGELES — David Freese retired Saturday after an 11-year career in the majors in which he shone brightest in the postseason, winning a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 when he was MVP.
The 36-year-old infielder made the announcement on Twitter.
He was a career .277 hitter and even better in the postseason, with a .299 average.
Freese made his final appearance Wednesday in a deciding Game 5 of an NL Division Series, striking out as a pinch-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They lost 7-3 to the Washington Nationals. Freese had started Game 1 at first base.
He made his major league debut with St. Louis in 2009 and became a postseason star two years later. Freese batted .545 with 12 hits in the NL Championship Series in 2011. He also set an MLB postseason record with 21 RBIs and earned MVP honors in the NLCS and World Series.
Freese was an All-Star in 2012, when he played in a career-high 144 games after injuries had dogged him in previous years. In Game 1 of the NLCS against San Francisco, he hit a two-run homer off Madison Bumgarner.