Ernesto Frieri is out as the Angels’ closer, Joe Smith is in

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Big changes in Anaheim. Ernesto Frieri, who has spent most of the past three seasons as the Angels’ closer has been relieved of his duties. Mike Scioscia said that Joe Smith will now take over as the team’s closer.

Frieri has been a train wreck in 2014. He has allowed nine runs on fourteen hits in eight and two-thirds innings over ten appearances so far. In his last appearance, on Wednesday, he gave up four runs to blow a three-run lead and the game against the Nationals. Manager Mike Scioscia said that it’s a mechanical problem with Frieri and that, until he can figure out his release point, Frieri will pitch in lower-leverage situations, though likely not in the eighth inning.

Smith has exactly three saves in 450 career big league appearances.

 

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.