Francisco Liriano dominates in first (and last?) rehab start

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Francisco Liriano’s first minor-league rehab start may end up being his last minor-league rehab start, because the Pirates left-hander was dominant last night at Triple-A.

Facing the Phillies’ affiliate–and a lineup that included former big leaguers Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, and Russ Canzler–he tossed six shutout innings with eight strikeouts, zero walks, and three hits.

Liriano needed just 76 pitches to record 18 outs and threw 70 percent of them for strikes, retiring the final 15 batters he faced in his first game action since being shut down with an oblique strain on June 10.

It’s possible that the Pirates will ask him to make one more start at Triple-A just to be safe, but Liriano certainly seems ready to rejoin the rotation and there’s an opening now with Gerrit Cole going back on the disabled list.

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.