Indians demote Danny Salazar to Triple-A

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Thanks to his mid-90s fastball and fantastic strikeout totals Danny Salazar was a popular breakout pick for 2015, but after a rough start Thursday the Indians have decided to send the 25-year-old right-hander back to Triple-A.

Cleveland has solid rotation depth, but Salazar has a 3.89 ERA in 30 career starts while racking up 185 strikeouts in 162 innings. His control can be spotty, but there isn’t much more for him to prove in the minors and he’s already performed like a useful mid-rotation starter in the majors. And even while struggling this spring he posted a 15/5 K/BB ratio in 11 innings.

Salazar figures to be back in Cleveland soon enough and the demotion likely had a lot to do with him having one minor-league option remaining, so the Indians could trim him from the rotation competition without losing someone else useful on waivers. Still, he’s probably one of the Indians’ five best starters and he definitely has one of the five highest upside among Indians starters. Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin are now competing for the fifth starter gig.

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.