Via Chad Cushnir of FirstCoastNews.com:
First Coast News sports director Dan Hicken has learned that Ryan Freel, a Jacksonville native and former Major League Baseball has died at the age of 36. The cause of death is suicide.
There aren’t many details available at this time.
Freel batted .268/.354/.369 with 143 stolen bases over parts of eight seasons in the major leagues. He played for the Blue Jays, Reds, Orioles, Cubs and Royals before finishing his career with the independent-league Somerset Patriots in 2010.
Freel, who began working with youth baseball players after his retirement, was 36 years old.
UPDATE, 11:05 PM: A couple things to add …
- SB Nation’s Red Reporter notes that Freel, who had just been named the head baseball coach at St. Joseph Academy in Florida, was a father and a husband.
- Known for an aggressive, go-all-out style of defense, Freel told reporters in June 2007 that he had already suffered “nine or 10” concussions.
Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that the Blue Jays are considering moving starter Jaime Garcia to the bullpen. If they go that route, Sam Gaviglio would start in Garcia’s place on Sunday against the Angels.
Garcia, 31, has struggled to a 6.16 ERA with a 56/31 K/BB ratio in 61 1/3 innings over 13 starts this season. Gaviglio, meanwhile, has a 3.75 ERA with 35 striekouts and 11 walks in 36 innings across six starts and two relief appearances for the Jays this year.
Garcia inked a one-year, $10 million contract with the Jays in February. The deal includes a club option for the 2019 season worth $10 million with a $2 million buyout.