Angels’ return to Texas a jarring reminder of Tyler Skaggs’ death

Angels manager Brad Ausmus sits on the bench in front of Tyler Skaggs' jersey during a July 2 game against the Texas Rangers.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Tyler Skaggs’ jersey hung in the visiting clubhouse at Globe Life Park on Monday afternoon. Just as it did in April when the Angels visited for their first series against the Texas Rangers. And just as it did when the team played here the day after Skaggs’ death July 1.

Skaggs’ locker has been set up in stadiums all over the country since the passing of the popular pitcher, the pertinent gear toted by Angels clubhouse managers during each trip. A jersey has been displayed on a hanger in every dugout that has housed the Angels. The clubhouse attendants even made a throwback jersey for Skaggs when the team celebrated the 1970s last weekend at Angel Stadium.

The constant reminders have been cathartic.

“Everyone feels it’s an important thing to do,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

But after seven weeks of the Angels adjusting to a new normal, this week’s return to Arlington drudged up emotions the players had suppressed as they engrossed themselves in their daily routine. It caught some off guard. Pitcher Andrew Heaney does not typically shy from sharing his thoughts, but he could not summon words to describe his emotional state.

“It’s hard to explain that,” he said. “Honestly, I can’t give you a good answer.”

The Texas Rangers score the winning running on a high infield chopper off Noe Ramirez to send the Angels to an 8-7 loss in 11 innings.

Aug. 19, 2019


Mike Trout, who took a visible leadership role in the days after Skaggs’ death, said it was jarring to be back. Not even knowing the Rangers will play in a new stadium next year helps.

“Every time we come back here, it’s always gonna bring up the memories,” Trout said. “This city brings up bad memories because this is where he passed.”

Said Kole Calhoun: “It’s definitely a little different. Takes you back to an empty feeling.”

Time has not lessened the blow the Angels were dealt when Skaggs was found unresponsive in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room last month. Skaggs is never far from anyone’s mind. Ausmus, for instance, was reminded of his pitcher as he watched the pregame video montage at Angel Stadium.

A tribute to the late Tyler Skaggs adorns the outfield wall at Angel Stadium.
A tribute to the late Tyler Skaggs adorns the outfield wall at Angel Stadium.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

“The last homestand before Tyler passed away, he was verbatim doing the color call that goes with the video,” Ausmus said. “That video came on and it just reminded me of the last time we were home with Tyler. There are always things that pop up during the course of a day, one or two times a day that remind me of him.”

The Angels have stayed afloat by drawing comfort from each other.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a season just from a clubhouse standpoint,” Calhoun said. “But one thing that’s been consistent has been that mentality in here, that togetherness that we’ve had and being there for each other. I think if you’re speaking to something about this clubhouse, I think it’s a pretty relentless group of guys.”

Short hops

The Angels will recall right-hander Jaime Barria from triple-A Salt Lake for game two of Tuesday’s split doubleheader. Teams are allowed to carry 26 players during doubleheaders. . . . . Catcher Kevan Smith, on the injured list because of back spasms, has swung a bat on back-to-back days and not reported any setbacks. He is eligible to be reinstated this week.