Major League Baseball is mourning the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, 27, who died on Monday in Southlake, Texas where his team was preparing to open a series against the Texas Rangers.
According to multiple reports, police were notified that there was an unconscious man in a hotel room and Skaggs was pronounced dead at the scene. A spokesman for the Southlake police department indicated there was no evidence of foul play and said it doesn’t believe the left-handed starter committed suicide.
“It is with great sorrow that we report Tyler Skaggs passed away earlier today in Texas,” a statement by the Angels said. “Tyler has, and always will be, an important part of the Angels Family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family during this devastating time.”
In response to the death, the scheduled game between the teams was canceled as tributes from around the game came pouring in. Angels fans gathered at their stadium, many bringing flowers in memory of Skaggs.
One of the last public acts from Skaggs was an Instagram photo posted on his account featuring Angels players in preparation of their series in Texas. The whole team wore cowboy outfits on the flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth. Skaggs, who was wearing a bolo tie and cowboy hat, wrote “Howdy y’all” on the page.
The team was not made available to the media on Monday, but is expected to address the loss of their teammate Tuesday before their game. The Angels’ Triple-A team, the Salt Lake Bees, also postponed their game at Tacoma on Monday.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward explained the situation to his team after it gathered for Monday’s game.
“There were a lot of pretty emotional guys in there, you could tell. Some guys knew him. Jesse Chavez actually played with him in L.A.,” Woodward said. “Some guys that didn’t even know him were visibly shaken. You could tell.”
Angels general manager Billy Eppler was very emotional.
“He had a long life ahead of him, and now that’s gone,” said Eppler. “Everybody grieves in their own way, and everybody has to find peace through this eventually, but it’s just a tragic day for everybody, especially his family.”
MLB posted a statement to Twitter from commissioner Rob Manfred:
“All of us at Major League Baseball extend our deepest condolences to Tyler’s wife, Carli, their family, their friends and all of his Angels’ teammates and colleagues. We will support the Angels’ organization through this most difficult period, and we will make a variety of resources available to Tyler’s teammates and other members of the baseball family.”
Skaggs was on the mound Saturday against the Oakland A’s, pitching 4⅓ innings. He was 7-7 this year in 15 starts with a 4.29 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 79⅔ innings. He was tough-minded and was reportedly upset when manager Brad Ausmus pulled him in the fifth inning after allowing two runs on two hits, four walks and striking out five.
Skaggs was the 40th pick in the first round of the 2009 draft by the Angels. He was originally dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010 before they traded him back to Los Angeles after the 2013 season in a three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona, Adam Eaton the Chicago White Sox and Skaggs and Hector Santiago to the Angels.
He made his Major League debut with the D-backs on Aug. 22, 2012, allowing two runs on three hits over 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Marlins.
The Diamondbacks said in a statement that they were “heartbroken” and would remember Skaggs as a “great teammate and wonderful young man.”
The lefty had a career 4.41 ERA in 96 starts, including a 4.25 ERA in 83 starts with the Angels.
According to ESPN, former Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Skaggs “one of the bright young lights in this world. “We all feel the pain of his loss and pray for some comfort to his family.”
This is not the first tragedy to impact the Angels. Outfielder Lyman Bostock died in 1978, shot and killed while sitting in a car in Gary, Ind., during the team’s road trip to Chicago. Infielders Chico Ruiz (1972) and Mike Miley (1977) died in a car crashes. In April 2009, pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others were killed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver. Last December, infielder Luis Valbuena was killed in Venezuela with former major leaguer Jose Castillo in a car crash caused by highway bandits.
Skaggs, who was married just seven months ago, fought through many obstacles in his career, including Tommy John surgery in August 2014.The Athletic said he grew up in California as a Dodgers fan and was looking forward to pitching against them later this month.
“There’s definitely a big grudge there,” he told the website over the weekend.
His nickname was “Swaggy” and he was one of the biggest personalities on the team. He especially loved kidding around Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. Skaggs was in charge of the music in the clubhouse during Spring Training and had tattoos on his arm with the state of California and an L.A. logo.
“He wasn’t a guy that I enjoyed having to go up against,” said Woodward. “It seemed like no matter whether I was in Seattle or L.A., or here, obviously, he gave all the teams I coached fits. He was a really promising arm.”