Mariners designate catcher Rob Johnson for assignment

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Seattle has mercifully designated Rob Johnson for assignment after giving the 27-year-old catcher a total of 499 plate appearances during the past two seasons despite hitting a combined .204 with a .291 on-base percentage and .307 slugging percentage.

And unlike most catchers who get significant playing time despite not being able to hit, Johnson wasn’t even that good defensively. He did a solid job controlling the running game, but has more passed balls than any catcher in the league since the beginning of 2009 despite playing about half as much as the average starter.

Johnson finishes with the third-worst OPS in Mariners history among players with 500 or more plate appearances, as his .584 mark tops only Brian Hunter (.576) and the legendary Mario Mendoza (.522).

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.