July 2, 2019 / 11:56 PM / 16 days ago

Angels mourn loss of Skaggs during tearful tribute

At an emotional press conference Tuesday in Arlington, Texas, to discuss the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, team owner Arte Moreno said, “It’s like a punch in the heart. These kids are like family.”

FILE PHOTO -Jun 23, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (45) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Skaggs, 27, was found unresponsive in his hotel room Monday afternoon and pronounced dead, hours before the Angels and Texas Rangers were scheduled to play in Arlington, Texas.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said many of those involved with the team treated Skaggs like “a brother or a son.”

“He was an exceptional young man with an entire life so full of promise yet to live,” Eppler said. “For some reason that is incomprehensible to all of us, he lives on now only in our minds and in our hearts.”

On Monday, police said there were no signs of foul play and that they had ruled out suicide. Monday’s game in Texas was postponed, but the teams decided to play Tuesday night as scheduled.

The Angels on Tuesday started wearing a black patch with Skaggs’ No. 45 stitched on their jerseys, and they will continue to do so the rest of the season.

“A lot of problems go away from the time the first pitch is thrown until the last pitch is thrown,” Eppler said. “These guys will be there fighting for each other with Tyler weighing heavy on their hearts tonight.”

Angels manager Brad Ausmus shed tears while speaking Tuesday.

“He’s just a happy person,” Ausmus said of Skaggs. “He’s got the type of personality that draws others in. Like I said, he’s goofy in a good, funny way.

“This road trip to Dallas, he came up to me four or five days before and, ‘Hey, we’re going to Texas for two series, do you care if we all dress up in Western gear or cowboy gear?’ So he kind of spearheaded that, and that’s one of the last pictures of ‘Skaggys’ with his teammates, all dressed up in cowboy gear. And the last image I have of him is standing on a plane with this awful cowboy shirt on, playing cards.”

The shot Ausmus mentioned was the last photo Skaggs posted on his Instagram account.

Skaggs, who grew up in Santa Monica, Calif., was drafted in the first round (40th overall) by the Angels in the 2009 draft. He reached the big leagues in 2012 with the Diamondbacks and spent two seasons in Arizona before rejoining the Angels in 2014. In seven major league seasons, he posted a 28-38 record in 96 starts with a 4.41 ERA.

In 15 starts during the 2019 season, he was 7-7 with a 4.29 ERA. In his final start, on Thursday against the Oakland A’s, Skaggs gave up two runs on two hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings, taking the loss as the Angels fell 4-0.

—Field Level Media

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