Prosecutors: Former Angels employee lied after Skaggs’ death

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

FORT WORTH, Texas- A former Los Angeles Angels employee on trial over charges of providing Tyler Skaggs the drugs that caused his overdose death lied to police about whether he saw the Angels pitcher the night before he was found dead, a federal prosecutor alleged in opening statements Tuesday.

Eric Prescott Kay’s lead defense attorney said his client didn’t give Skaggs drugs that night and there was no way to know whether the fentanyl Kay is accused of providing was the cause of Skaggs’ death in Texas.

Defense attorney Reagan Wynn told jurors Kay entered Skaggs’ hotel room in a Dallas suburb on June 30, 2019, to find the pitcher sitting at a table with lines of powdery substances in front of him. Wynn said Skaggs told Kay a drug Kay didn’t recognize was something he had shared with Matt Harvey, who pitched for the Angels that season.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019, after the team had traveled from Los Angeles and before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed.

A coroner’s report said Skaggs had choked to death on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the drugs fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.

Kay faces charges of drug distribution and drug conspiracy in Skaggs’ death. The trial is expected to last about a week.

Lead prosecutor Lindsey Beran told jurors the evidence would show Kay was the only person who could have provided the drugs that led to Skaggs’ death, and characterized him as more concerned about protecting himself than caring about the welfare of Skaggs’ family.

“There was only one person that went to Tyler Skaggs’ hotel room, and lied to police about it,” Beran said.

Kay was the Angels’ director of communications, and he served as their public relations contact on many road trips. He was placed on leave shortly after Skaggs’ death, and never returned to the team.

Wynn acknowledged to jurors that Kay lied to police. Kay was on his first trip since being away from the team for about a month for treatment of an addiction to oxycodone, Wynn said. Kay is accused of obtaining drugs for himself, Skaggs and others.

Andrew Heaney, a teammate and close friend of Skaggs for five seasons with the Angels, was the first witness.

Heaney detailed his efforts to reach Skaggs the day he was found dead, and his growing concern as calls and texts went unanswered. He said the two were close, but he didn’t know about Skaggs’ dealings with Kay. Heaney was traded to the New York Yankees last season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in November.

Beran said Kay and Skaggs didn’t have a close relationship outside the team setting, but Wynn disputed that, saying, “They certainly had a relationship, a relationship they certainly tried to keep secret.”

Wynn said Kay’s addiction to painkillers went back years, and that Kay first connected with Skaggs during spring training in 2014 when Kay was looking for ways to obtain pills. Wynn said Skaggs told Kay in 2014, “You came to the right guy,” and invited him to the place he was staying in Arizona that night.

After Skaggs missed all of 2015 coming off elbow surgery, Wynn said they “picked up where they left off” during spring training in 2016.

Beran detailed a timeline the prosecution believes made it impossible for Kay to deliver oxydocone pills during or after a home game before the team left for Texas on June 30, meaning the drugs had to be delivered after the team arrived. Wynn said Kay delivered two pills before the team traveled.

The prosecution alleges that Kay gave Skaggs counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl. Beran said Kay would often ask suppliers about pills having fentanyl, indicating he knew the danger of the drug.

Heaney is set to be questioned by defense attorneys Wednesday. Six other current or former major league players are on the witness list, including Harvey. Pitchers Garrett Richards, Cam Bedrosian, Blake Parker and Mike Morin are on the list along with infielder C.J. Cron.

All played for the Angels at some point from 2017-19, the years prosecutors allege Kay was providing drugs to Skaggs and others. Beran said evidence would show Kay kept providing drugs to some players after they left the Angels.

Olson blasts two HRs, Acuña has 4 hits as Strider, Braves overpower Phillies 11-4

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA – Given a seven-run lead in the first inning, Atlanta right-hander Spencer Strider could relax and keep adding to his majors-leading strikeout total.

“That game felt like it was over pretty quick,” Strider said.

Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in three runs with four hits, including a two-run single in Atlanta’s seven-run first inning, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-4 on Sunday night to split the four-game series.

“Getting a lead first is big, especially when you get that big of a lead,” Strider said. “… When we’re putting up runs, my job isn’t to be perfect. My job is to get outs.”

Following the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced right-hander Michael Soroka will be recalled to make his first start since the 2020 season on Monday night at Oakland.

Matt Olson hit a pair of two-run homers for Atlanta, and Strider became the fastest pitcher in modern history to reach 100 strikeouts in a season.

“It’s incredible,” said Acuña through a translator of Strider. “Every time he goes out to pitch it seems like he’s going to strike everybody out.”

Acuña hit a run-scoring triple in the fifth before Olson’s second homer to center. Acuña had two singles in the first when the Braves sent 11 batters to the plate, collected seven hits and opened a 7-0 lead. Led by Acuña and Olson, who had three hits, the Braves set a season high with 20 hits.

Strider (5-2) struck out nine while pitching six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander fired a called third strike past Nick Castellanos for the first out of the fourth, giving him 100 strikeouts in 61 innings and topping Jacob deGrom‘s 61 2/3 innings in 2021 as the fastest to 100 in the modern era.

“It’s cool,” Strider said, adding “hopefully it’ll keep going.”

Olson followed Acuña’s leadoff single with a 464-foot homer to right-center. Austin Riley added another homer before Ozzie Albies and Acuña had two-run singles in the long first inning.

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner and left fielder Kyle Schwarber each committed an error on a grounder by Orlando Arcia, setting up two unearned runs in the inning.

Strider walked Kody Clemens to open the third. Brandon Marsh followed with a two-run homer for the Phillies’ first hit. Schwarber hit a two-run homer off Collin McHugh in the seventh.


Michael Harris II celebrated the one-year anniversary of his major league debut by robbing Schwarber of a homer with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the second. As Harris shook his head to say “No!” after coming down with the ball on the warning track, Strider pumped his fist in approval on the mound – after realizing Harris had the ball.

“He put me through an emotional roller coaster for a moment,” Strider said.


Soroka was scratched from his scheduled start at Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, setting the stage for his final step in his comeback from two torn Achilles tendons.

“To get back is really a feather in that kid’s cap,” Snitker said.

Soroka will be making his first start in the majors since Aug. 3, 2020, against the New York Mets when he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. Following a setback which required a follow-up surgery, he suffered another tear of the same Achilles tendon midway through the 2021 season.

Soroka suffered another complication in his comeback when a hamstring injury slowed his progress this spring.

Acuña said he was “super happy, super excited for him, super proud of him” and added “I’m just hoping for continued good health.”

Soroka looked like an emerging ace when he finished 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 2019 and placed second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the NL Cy Young voting.

The Braves are 0-3 in bullpen committee games as they attempt to overcome losing two key starters, Max Fried (strained left forearm) and Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) to the injured list in early May. Each is expected to miss at least two months.

RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who gave up one hit in two scoreless innings, was optioned to Gwinnett after the game to clear a roster spot for Soroka.


Phillies right-hander Dylan Covey (0-1), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 20, didn’t make it through the first inning. Covey allowed seven runs, five earned, and six hits, including the homers by Olson and Riley.


Phillies: 3B Alex Bohm was held out with hamstring tightness. … LHP José Alvarado (left elbow inflammation) threw the bullpen session originally scheduled for Saturday. Manager Rob Thomson said there was no report that Alvarado, who was placed on the injured list on May 10, had any difficulty.


Phillies: Following an off day, LHP Ranger Suárez (0-1, 9.82 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Kodai Senga (4-3, 3.94 ERA) in Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series in New York.

Braves: Soroka was 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in eight games with Triple-A Gwinnett. He allowed a combined four hits and two runs over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts. RHP Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28 ERA in 2022) is scheduled to make his 2023 debut for Oakland as he returns from a finger injury.