Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of an accidental overdose due to a combination of drugs and alcohol, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The medical examiner determined Skaggs died of “alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents,” meaning he choked on his vomit.
He was found unresponsive on the bed of his Southlake hotel room on July 1, before the team was supposed to play against the Rangers.
Skaggs had married in the off-season and was only 12 days short of his 28th birthday when he died.
A statement from his family said the combination of drugs and alcohol 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.”
The family thanked the detectives in the Southlake Police Department for investigating the circumstances of Skaggs’ death and said they “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,” the statement said, adding that they have hired a Texas attorney to represent them.
Southlake police said the investigation is ongoing and would not comment further.
The family’s attorney did not respond to messages left by the Star-Telegram on Friday.
A Rangers athletic trainer said MLB does not permit teams to have narcotic pain killers for players and that they must be prescribed by a physician.
Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields said the circumstances surrounding Skaggs’ death don’t matter.
“I know people have been curious about it, but this is a guy who was part of our family,” DeShields said. “Regardless of the circumstances, it’s unfortunate and a loss for everyone.”
Skaggs faced the Rangers 12 times in his career, going 5-2 with a 4.52 ERA. He beat them April 6 by allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings, and he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings May against the Rangers but took a no-decision.
The Rangers returned early Thursday morning from a two-game series against the Angels in Anaheim, where Skaggs’ jersey number and image were visible.
A concrete mound outside the main entrance of Angel Stadium has been transformed by fans into a memorial, and the Angels placed a banner of his likeness on the outfield wall.
Rangers outfielder Scott Heineman, a close friend of Skaggs’ from youth baseball in California and off-season workouts, said that he sent photos of the wall to his family. He invited Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, to attend the game with his family, but she declined saying that it was still too emotional to attend games.
“She just said, ‘He’s there with you this week,’” Heineman said Tuesday. “Obviously, it’s tough, but I know he’s out there with me. It’s exciting to be here and be on the same field.”