Texas Rangers

Report: Angels employee gave Skaggs illegal opioids, including in days before his death

A report Saturday from ESPN said former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was supplied with opioids by a member of the Angels’ public relations staff, who admitted to using them with Skaggs and supplying them to other players.

Skaggs, 27, was found unresponsive in his Southlake hotel room July 1 as the Angels prepared to play the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. The autopsy results released Aug. 30 concluded that he died of an accidental overdose of oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol.

Eric Kay, a longtime Angels employee who served as the director of communications, admitted his role to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and told officials of five other Angels he believed used opioids while with the team, according to the report.

According to the report, Kay told investigators during interviews in Dallas and Los Angeles in late September that he illegally obtained six oxycodone pills and gave half to Skaggs in the days leading to the Angels’ trip to play the Rangers.

Two sources told ESPN that Kay believes the pills he gave Skaggs were not the same Skaggs took the day he died because Skaggs often ingested the pills as soon as he received them. Skaggs would pay Kay to get opioids for both of them.

Kay also said he received a text from Skaggs on June 30, the day they departed for Arlington, looking for more pills. The report said Kay told investigators he did not provide any.

However, Kay said he was in Skaggs’ hotel room June 30 and watched him snort what he believed to be two crushed oxycodone pills and another pill Kay did not recognize. Kay denied using that night because the pills would have been counteracted by medication he was taking.

ESPN was told by Kay’s mother that he started abusing opioids in the late 1990s, after the death of his father. Kay was in the hospital in April following an overdose and received a text message from Skaggs seeking pills, according to the mother.

She said Tim Mead, the Angels’ former vice president of communications, was in the room at the time and was told to get Skaggs under control, but Mead denied knowing about the Kay-Skaggs relationship or that Skaggs used opioids.

Mead is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, having left the team shortly before Skaggs’ death.

In addition to the DEA, the Southlake Police Department and Major League Baseball have been investigating Skaggs’ death.

After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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