FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) — Four former Los Angeles Angels players testified that an ex-team staffer dealt them opioid pills on the sixth day of a federal trial over the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs during a road trip through Dallas.
Pitcher Cam Bedrosian, first baseman C.J. Cron and pitcher Michael Morin told a federal jury in Fort Worth on Tuesday that Eric Kay, 47, was their sole source of oxycodone pills. Kay faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death.
Skaggs, 27, choked on his own vomit and died on July 1, 2019, at a hotel in Southlake before a game against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County medical examiner concluded the death was accidental and found a mixture of ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.
Police founds blue and pink pills in Skaggs’ room, as well as white residue that contained fentanyl. Prosecutors claim cellphone records indicate Skaggs texted Kay that afternoon asking for five pills.
Bedrosian last played for the Angels in 2020. He is currently signed to a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He told jurors he did not “feel right” after trying one of Kay’s pills and returned the rest. He said he bought three to four pills total from Kay.
Cron last played for the Angels in 2018 – he currently plays for the Colorado Rockies. He testified that Kay sold him drugs eight times, including once after he left Los Angeles to play for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Morin last played for the Angels in 2017 and is currently an unsigned free agent. He testified that Skaggs initially introduced him to Kay as a drug source to manage the pain of his thoracic outlet syndrome. Morin told jurors he would leave money inside his locker for Kay, who would then leave pills in the locker.
The trio’s testimony is central to the prosecution’s claim that Kay was the source of the drugs that killed Skaggs that night and that it was the fentanyl specifically that killed him. Kay’s defense hinges on the argument that Skaggs received opioids from other sources – including teammate and fellow pitcher Matt Harvey – and that those drugs are what killed him.
Harvey also testified Tuesday, stating he bought pills from Kay and received pills from an outside source in Rhode Island twice. He said one of those time from the outside source was in April 2019 when Skaggs requested the pills.
"I felt as a teammate I was just helping him get through whatever he needed to get through," Harvey said.
Harvey said he once took an oxycodone pill with Skaggs at Angel Stadium that season, but he did not enjoy the result and said it “felt overwhelming.”
“I did not have a good feeling,” Harvey said. “I felt shaky and sweaty.”
Testifying with immunity as a government witness, Harvey said Skaggs told him he would crush the oxycodone pills and snort them in the clubhouse bathroom. Harvey was unable to remember if the pills he gave Skaggs in June were Percocet or oxycodone. He testified that Kay told him before the trip to Texas that he left a blue oxycodone pill in Harvey’s locker.
Harvey added that after Skaggs died, he threw away the pill from Kay when he arrived at Angel Stadium. He admitted that he regularly used cocaine throughout his career as a player.
The players’ testimony comes one day after the Angels’ current communications director testified Kay admitted to him that he saw Skaggs snort three lines of drugs the night of his death.
Kay’s trial is expected to last through the end of this week. He reportedly rejected a plea bargain on the eve of trial.
The closely followed criminal case has been deeply embarrassing to Major League Baseball — a league that has tried to aggressively test and punish players for drug use, yet has a front office employee accused of dealing synthetic opioids to the same players.
The trial comes as MLB is also dealing with a lockout of players that began in December, the league’s ninth work stoppage. The league has suspended testing for performance-enhancing drugs during the lockout.Follow @davejourno
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