Skaggs, 27, was found two days after he last pitched for the Angels while the team was playing a series against the Rangers. Officials went to his room at 2:18 p.m. when he did not show up to the ballpark on time.
The pitcher’s family, in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, said the drug use was “completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League Baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much,” and alluded to a team employee’s involvement.
“We are grateful for the work of the detectives in the Southlake Police Department and their ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tyler’s death,” the family said in the statement. “We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels. We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them. To that end, we have hired attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us.”
Experts said it is extremely unusual for someone to be prescribed all three of the opioids — fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone — found in Skaggs’s bloodstream and none should be consumed with alcohol.
“In today’s opioid-sensitive environment, no logical prescriber would give someone that combination of drugs unless they were in severe terminal pain,” said James R. Schiffer, a health-care attorney and pharmacist at Allegaert Berger & Vogel. “A healthy 27-year-old should not be given those three together.”
Tests showed trace amounts of the opioids, all of which are banned by MLB, but a significant amount of alcohol. Skaggs had a blood alcohol level of 0.122. The legal limit for impairment is 0.08.
“Tyler always will be a beloved member of the Angels family, and we are deeply saddened to learn what caused this tragic death,” the Angels said in a statement. “Angels baseball has provided our full cooperation and assistance to the Southlake Police as they conduct their investigation.”
By many accounts, Skaggs was considered one of the most popular players in the Los Angeles clubhouse. He spent the final five seasons of a seven-year big league career with the team, though he missed all of 2015 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
His death deeply shook the Angels organization and drew tributes from around baseball. Before Friday night’s game against the Red Sox, Angels GM Billy Eppler and Manager Brad Ausmus addressed reporters.
Los Angeles players all wore Skaggs’s No. 45 for the team’s first home game after his death. His mother threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and Angels pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.
Afterward, players, some in tears, gathered around the pitcher’s mound and laid their uniforms on the ground.