Anibal Sanchez exits start in the fourth inning

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Tigers starterAnibal Sanchez was taken out of tonight’s game against the Twins after three and two-thirds innings due to a shoulder injury, reports Chris Iott. The Tigers had skipped Sanchez’s turn in the rotation last week, making manager Jim Leyland anxious to see his right-hander perform tonight. It didn’t go well, as Sanchez allowed two runs on five hits and an uncharacteristic four walks.

Iott describes Sanchez’s struggles:

The Twins had a runner on and one out in the fourth when Trevor Plouffe ripped a home run an estimated 415 feet to left field to tie the score at 2-2. After Sanchez issued a two-out walk to Brian Dozier, Leyland made a rare trip to the mound that did not result in a pitching change.

But Sanchez threw just one more pitch. Pedro Florimon singled to center to put runners at first and third. After Alex Avila and Sanchez met at the mound and dragged their feet a bit, Leyland returned to the mound and replaced Sanchez with left-hander Darin Downs.

As of right now, there are no indications that Sanchez was lifted due specifically to the shoulder injury, or simply because he performed poorly.

Skaggs Case: Federal Agents have interviewed at least six current or former Angels players

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.

Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.

In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.