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Richard Bleier to undergo season-ending surgery

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Orioles left-handed reliever Richard Bleier is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday. The lefty was pulled from Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox after experiencing some pain in his pitching arm, which was later diagnosed as a Grade 3 lat strain. He’s expected to be fully healed by the start of spring training 2019.

Leading up to Wednesday’s incident, however, Bleier was putting together one of the most dominant runs of his career to date. The 31-year-old southpaw posted a 1.93 ERA, 1.1 BB/9 and 4.1 SO/9 in 32 2/3 innings, good for 0.8 fWAR through his first three months of the season. This appears to be his first significant setback in six years, when he suffered a UCL injury during a brief stint with the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate in 2012.

In corresponding moves, right-hander Yefry Ramirez was optioned, lefty D.J. Snelten was designated for assignment, and infielder Corban Joseph was selected from Triple-A Norfolk. Fellow left-hander Tanner Scott will assume Bleien’s place in the bullpen; he’s working with a 4.76 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 12.2 SO/9 through 17 innings so far.

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.