The Drug Enforcement Agency is continuing its probe into the opioids-related death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and possible opioid abuse by players and employees. According to the LA Times, the DEA has interviewed six current or former Angels players as part of its investigation, including Matt Harvey, Noe Ramirez and Andrew Heaney.
Harvey, who was released on July 21 and signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics a few weeks later, was with the Angels for only the 2019 season. Ramirez has been with the club since 2017, and Heaney since 2015. All three are pitchers who would have interacted with Skaggs prior to his death on July 1.
Sources told the LA Times that the players weren’t interviewed under suspicion of drug use, but in the hopes that they could give the DEA more information about whether opioid use was common in the clubhouse, or if they ever saw Skaggs or other players using them on team flights.
According to a retired longtime DEA agent who spoke with the Times, the agency’s next step could be to investigate emails and text messages between players, team employees and even family members.
The DEA investigation is only part of the story. ESPN reported that under MLB policy, the Angels could be fined up to $2 million for failing to report prohibited drug use to MLB. Angels communication director Eric Kay told federal agents that his supervisor Tim Mead and at least one other Angels employee were informed of Skaggs’ drug use and did nothing. Mead left the Angels organization over the summer to become the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kay, who is currently on leave from his job and in outpatient recovery, also told federal agents that he had supplied Skaggs with opioids and at times they took them together.
In a statement, the Angels denied that anyone on their staff knew anything about drug use or drug seeking among players and employees.
"We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking narcotics from him. The current and former employees that are being accused of knowing this behavior have categorically denied that assertion. 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."
When ESPN pressed Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey on why the statement didn’t mention Kay, she declined to answer.
According to ESPN, MLB still intends to run its own investigation into Skaggs’ death and into opioid drug use on the Angels. However, MLB’s investigation must wait until the DEA has finished its own investigation.
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