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Struggling Conforto demoted by N.Y. Mets, Nimmo called up

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Michael Conforto has learned a harsh lesson about life in majors: There’s a limit to patience.

The New York Mets have demoted the 23-year-old outfielder to the team’s Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas to bring up another promising player in Brandon Nimmo. Conforto’s left-field spot will be filled by his promoted replacement.

Both players were former first-rounders by the Mets with Nimmo being drafted out of high school in 2011 and Conforto getting selected in 2014 out of  Oregon State University.

The move comes as a surprise considering how strongly Conforto started with the Mets this season and how he finished the 2015 regular season. In April, he appeared to be headed towards a breakout season, hitting .365 with four homers and 18 RBIs and at one point was hitting No. 3 in the batting order. Yet, his hitting took a dramatic dip since that month, hitting just .107 over his last 25 games. The N.Y. Daily News reported that the team was concerned that the player was too focused on the long ball.

“I see an uphill swing,” one Mets official told the N.Y. Daily News when asked about what Conforto has been doing wrong. “He’s trying to hit home runs all the time. He needs to use the whole field.”

The paper also reported that the Mets were concerned about Conforto confidence because of the demotion but with the team still in the race for both the NL East and the NL Wild Card, it couldn’t afford to wait any longer to determine if he could rebound.

Nimmo was Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson’s first draft pick as manager of the team and while he initially struggled in the minors, he’s had a strong start to this year in Triple-A, batting .328 with a .409 OBP, five homers and 37 RBIs in 63 games.

 

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.