Angels' Eric Kay Told DEA Team Knew of Tyler Skaggs' Drug Use Before His Death

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 12, 2019

The jersey of the late Tyler Skaggs hangs on the wall during a news conference with team management and ownership before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Skaggs passed away on Monday in Southlake, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Eric Kay, director of communications for the Los Angeles Angels, reportedly told investigators two team officials knew about Tyler Skaggs' drug use before his death July 1.

Per ESPN's T.J. Quinn, Kay first mentioned Skaggs' use of opioids to Tim Mead, former Angels vice president of communications, in 2017. He also said a second, unnamed Angels official knew.

Angels president John Carpino issued a statement in response to Quinn's report:

"We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking illegal narcotics. 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."

Kay reportedly told federal investigators he provided Skaggs with oxycodone, and Quinn reported the two of them "abused it ... for years."

Mead told Outside the Lines he was unaware Skaggs used opioids. He also said Skaggs was not named in an April conversation he had with Kay's mother, Sandy, who told Quinn she saw text messages between Skaggs and Kay and that she told Mead the Angels had to get Skaggs "off [Kay's] back."

Skaggs' autopsy results, released by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office Aug. 30, showed a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol. His death was ruled to be the result of "terminal aspiration of gastric contents."

The Skaggs family issued a statement about the autopsy results:

"We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol. That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League Baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.

"We are grateful for the work of the detectives in the Southlake Police Department and their ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tyler's death. We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels. We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them. To that end, we have hired attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us."

Hardin told Quinn the family "appreciate[s] the work that law enforcement is doing, and they are patiently awaiting the results of the investigation."

MLB rules state if a team official is made aware of a player's drug abuse, it must be reported to the commissioner's office. An MLB spokesman told Quinn the Angels never made such a report.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in a room at a Texas hotel where the Angels were staying for a series against the Rangers. He pitched seven MLB seasons with the Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks.

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