Chase Utley
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Dodgers release Chase Utley

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The Dodgers have officially granted an unconditional release to second baseman Chase Utley, according to an announcement made Friday. Utley is expected to formally retire during the offseason, bringing his storied 16-year career with the Phillies and Dodgers to a close.

The 39-year-old infielder capped his fourth campaign with the Dodgers in 2018, during which he managed a .213/.305/.305 batting line with just one home run and three stolen bases across 187 plate appearances. The downward slope of his career trajectory was hastened by several injuries — notably, a left thumb sprain and a bout of left wrist inflammation — and he finished the year with just 87 games under his belt, his lowest single-season total since 2012.

Despite the setbacks Utley weathered during his final season in the majors, he leaves behind a remarkable legacy as a prolific hitter and much-beloved personality. Between 2006 and 2010, he earned five straight All-Star nominations with Philadelphia and was awarded four Silver Sluggers in that span, to boot. Setting aside regular-season accolades, the hot-hitting infielder also hitched his wagon to six playoff-qualifying teams from 2007 to 2017 and helped carry the Phillies to a World Series victory (their first in nearly two decades) in 2008.

Utley originally announced his intent to retire back in July. At the time, he told reporters the decision was spurred by his desire to spend more time with his family. It’s not yet clear when his retirement will be made official or whether he intends to sign a one-day deal with the Phillies before hanging up his cleats for good.

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.