As he stuttered through his sentences, Mike Trout uttered the same word over and over again. A day after the revelation that late Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had opioids in his system at the time of his passing, “tough” was the adjective Trout kept coming back to.
“When you have a relative or a teammate pass away, it’s tough.”
“It’s been a tough year for us emotionally, and obviously mentally.”
“Just a tough situation when this came out. Tough to put your mind to it.”
The pain caused by Friday’s release of Skaggs’ autopsy report — which revealed that fentanyl and oxycodone, along with a blood-alcohol level that surpassed the legal impairment limit, were found in the 27-year-old’s system when he died in his Texas hotel room July 1 — cut deep. A tender wound that had only recently begun to heal was ripped open, sending emotional shockwaves through the Angels’ clubhouse all over again.
“Every time you talk about anything Tyler has done, or did, it definitely reopens it,” Trout said. “We’re always thinking about him.
“It doesn’t change my view on Tyler. He made a big impact on my life, this team. I was kind of shocked when the news came out like that.”
Friday was the latest step in a difficult healing process. The Angels remain surrounded by Skaggs’ memory. His locker is still set up in the clubhouse. Images of his left-handed release and No. 45 are plastered around Angel Stadium.
Since Skaggs’ death, the rhythm of the season has offered the Angels their greatest distraction. Friday’s news sunk them back into a somber state.
“Trying to process it yourself, understand and move forward and create a new normal – it’s never normal,” pitcher Andrew Heaney, one of Skaggs’ closest friends on the team, said after Friday’s game. “It’s never going to be the same.
“It keeps getting brought up. It makes you think about the negative side of it and not being reminded of all the positive things. In that sense it’s tough. I think every day I think of him it’s always something positive.”
Instead of receiving closure, the Angels are facing a new series of questions that were triggered by the Tarrant County (Texas) medical examiner’s office’s report, and the subsequent statement from Skaggs’ family.
Trout and Heaney both said they weren’t aware of Skaggs having any sort of drug-related issues.
“Obviously, if I knew I would definitely have said something or did something,” Trout said. “It’s tough. You love Tyler. We didn’t know he was going through this.”
The Skaggs family also said in their statement that the circumstances surrounding Skaggs’ death “may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels” and that they “will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them.”
Neither Trout nor Heaney had knowledge of that assertion.
“That was a shock to me,” Trout said. “Leading up to it, I knew nothing about it. It’s disappointing, but I don’t know anything about that.”
Echoed Heaney: “We don’t have answers. Nobody has answers.”
The Angels were offered more temporary respite Saturday night, coming from behind from to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-4 in front of 43,036 at Angel Stadium. Left-hander Dillon Peters kept the Angels close during a solid 6 1/3-inning, four-run, seven-hit, six-strikeout display. Then their offense exploded for a seven-run eighth inning.
Andrelton Simmons tied the score with an RBI single. David Fletcher lined a go-ahead double down the left-field line. Albert Pujols put an exclamation point on the inning with a three-run home run, tying him for 14th in all-time hits with Cal Ripken Jr. and giving him his 17th season with at least 20 home runs. With 653 all-time, he is seven behind Willie Mays for fifth place.
Trout went one for three with two walks (one intentional) in the win — which concluded a season-worst 9-17 month of August for the team — and recorded his 200th career stolen base in the second inning. That set another personal milestone for the two-time MVP, making him the youngest player to accumulate at least 200 stolen bases and 275 home runs. Yet, at just 28 years old, he’s continually reminded of all the personal loss he’s experienced too.
Last August, Trout’s brother-in-law and former Angels pitching prospect Aaron Cox committed suicide, leading to Trout wearing the name “A. Cox” across the back of his jersey for a game. That tragedy left him “emotionally drained,” he said. Skaggs’ death hasn’t been any easier to handle.
“Mentally it’s a grind to get over it,” Trout said. “Every time you do something, Tyler pops into your mind. Every day I still think about Aaron. It’s tough.”
Bedrosian put on IL
Pitcher Cam Bedrosian was put on the 10-day injured list because of a right forearm strain. Bedrosian, who also experienced elbow inflammation and tightness, had an MRI. However, neither Bedrosian — who has previously undergone Tommy John surgery — nor manager Brad Ausmus believes the injury to be serious.
“It’s that time of year where things creep up,” Bedrosian said. “I don’t want to get to something where it gets worse and having to do something in the offseason. Just a precaution right now.”
Ausmus said had it not been for the Angels 15-inning, bullpen-draining loss Friday, Bedrosian might not have needed to go on the injured list. Bedrosian said he’ll be shut down for five to six days, but he expects to return before the end of the season.