Los Angeles Angels: Tyler Skaggs’s death has gone to a Texas grand jury

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 12: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim players lay their jerseys on the pitchers mound after they won a combined no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The entire Angels team wore Tyler Skaggs #45 jersey to honor him after his death on July 1. Angels won 13-0. Los Angeles Angels public relations employee Eric Kay is seen on left. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 12: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim players lay their jerseys on the pitchers mound after they won a combined no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The entire Angels team wore Tyler Skaggs #45 jersey to honor him after his death on July 1. Angels won 13-0. Los Angeles Angels public relations employee Eric Kay is seen on left. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Angels: Tyler Skaggs’s death has gone to a Texas grand jury

A History of Injuries

After the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt him back to the Angels for 2014 (he’d gone to the Snakes with current Washington Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin in a previous deal for pitcher Dan Haren), Skaggs pitched eighteen games before his elbow sent him to Tommy John surgery.

He missed the entire 2015 season recovering and rehabbing, returned to start ten games in 2016, then missed over three months in 2017 with an oblique strain. He opened 2018 with sixteen starts and a 2.64 earned run average before his adductor muscle gave out to cost him three more months. And he missed most of April 2019 after three season-opening starts thanks to a left ankle sprain.

The toxicology report described Skaggs as “[a] normally developed, well-nourished and well-hydrated large build adult.” What the report couldn’t determine was whether and to what extent he remained in pain, physical or otherwise. He was known otherwise as a very likable fellow, freshly married when spring training began last year, with everything else to live for, too.

He loved his young wife, Carli; he loved his teammates who loved him back; he loved the game. That was no mere show when a hurricane of grief whipped around baseball after the news of his death. Or, when the Rangers courteously painted 45—Skaggs’s uniform number—behind their mound in the Angels’ lettering style as a show of respect.

Or, especially, when the Angels returned to Anaheim after the All-Star break. First, they paid a very public and touching pre-game tribute to Skaggs by one and all wearing jerseys with his name and number on their backs for the game.

Then, they stunned the Seattle Mariners, Angel Stadium, and baseball itself by throwing a combined no-hitter (Taylor Cole pitched two innings, Felix Pena pitched the final seven) and a 13-0 blowout at the Mariners. Which only began when Mike Trout—the all-everything center fielder emergent as a team leader in the immediate wake of Skaggs’s death—batted in the bottom of the first with David Fletcher aboard on a leadoff double and sent one over center field fence.

“This,” tweeted pitcher Marcus Stroman, then still with the Toronto Blue Jays before his trade to the New York Mets, “is unbelievable. The baseball gods. Love this!” Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander was just as exuberant in his own tweet: “Absolutely incredible!! It is bigger than baseball. Meant to be.”

On that July 12 night, one day before Skaggs would have turned 28, the Angels were bigger than baseball itself. The question now is whether the grand jury probe into the pitcher’s death, atop other investigations including by Skaggs’s family, will leave the Angels feeling lower than the lawns on which they play the game.