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Report: Angels Officials Knew of Tyler Skaggs' Drug Use Long Before His Death

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: Hansel Robles #57 of the Los Angeles Angels looks at a ball as it goes over the wall and a photo of Tyler Skaggs #45 during batting practice before playing the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 27, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
John McCoy/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels reportedly knew of pitcher Tyler Skaggs' drug use long before his death in July. A bombshell report fro ESPN details how an Angels public relations employee provided oxycodone to Skaggs and used it with him for years. The employee, Eric Kay, met with DEA agents several times in late September.

Kay told the agents of an arrangement where he would buy oxycodone to split with Skaggs, while the pitcher provided him money for the drugs through Venmo. Authorities have examined texts between the two men and Outside the Lines has the Venmo transaction list.

Skaggs died on July 1 in a hotel room in Southlake, Texas during a road trip with the Angels. A toxicology report released on August 30 found evidence of oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol in the 27-year-old's system. Kay informed investigators he provided Skaggs with three pills of oxycodone the day before the trip, but didn't believe those were the cause of his death:

Kay told investigators he illegally obtained six oxycodone pills and gave three to Skaggs a day or two before the team left California for the road trip to Texas, according to the two sources. Kay told DEA agents he does not think the pills he obtained for Skaggs were the same ones the pitcher took the day he died because Skaggs typically would ingest the pills immediately after receiving them from Kay, the sources said. Skaggs also texted Kay the day the team left for Texas seeking more oxycodone, a request Kay told investigators he was unable to fulfill, the sources said.

Kay also spent time with Skaggs the day he died, and was in the pitcher's hotel room when he was snorting opioids:

Kay told DEA investigators that hours before Skaggs' death in July, Skaggs was in his Southlake Hilton hotel room and texted Kay to visit him, according to a source familiar with what Kay told the DEA. Kay also told investigators that Skaggs snorted three lines of crushed opioids in front of him, the sources said. Kay recognized that two of the lines could have been crushed oxycodone, but the third was not a substance he recognized, the sources said. Kay said he did not take any drugs despite being offered them by Skaggs, the sources said, because he was on a medication that would have negated the effects.

Kay claims at least two Angels officials knew of Skaggs' drug use. He says he told Tim Mead -- the Angels' former vice president of communications -- of Skaggs' habit in 2017. Mead, who left the Angels to become president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, has denied any knowledge of Skaggs' drug abuse. Kay also told officials about a second Angels official who knew about it.

Another part of the report worth noting is that Kay provided investigators with the names of five other players he believed were abusing opiates while they were Angeles.

The Angels have immediately denied the report:

Angels team spokesperson Marie Garvey told Outside the Lines that the second official also denied knowing about players ever seeking drugs or Skaggs' use of them. "We are shocked to hear these reports. ... We had no prior knowledge of Tyler or any other member of the Angels organization having abused opioids or any narcotic and continue to work with law enforcement to get answers."

It's pretty hard to believe that no one in the organization knew a team employee was providing drugs to a player for years. There is no way not a single person with the Angels knew this was happening. It's a ridiculous premise. Obviously the franchise will deny the report, but the prudent thing to do would be to launch and internal investigation and clean house.