Rafael Soriano making strides, but won’t reclaim closer’s role yet

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Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano has made some mechanical adjustments, which he has put to the test in a couple of low-leverage situations recently. The 34-year-old said of the changes, “Everything is good. I’m feeling good,” per a report from James Wagner of the Washington Post.

Soriano blew his seventh save of the season on September 5 at home against the Phillies, which included a rare Ben Revere home run. Manager Matt Williams demoted Soriano from the closer’s role so that he could focus on 1) standing taller on the mound; 2) keep his front shoulder closed; and 3) staying low in the strike zone. In his latest two appearances, he’s been able to do just that and has had better results, striking out two in the process.

For now, though, the Nationals plan to stick with Drew Storen in the closer’s role. Storen has notched the save in each of his four games since Soriano’s demotion. In four innings, the right-hander has struck out six and allowed two hits while walking none.

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.