Four former Angels players testified Tuesday using oxycodone pills they received from Eric Kay, the team’s former communications director charged with giving Tyler Skaggs the drugs that resulted in his death in a suburban Dallas hotel room in July 2019.
Three of the players — CJ Cron, Michael Morin and Cam Bedrosian — said Kay was their only source for oxycodone pills. The fourth, Matt Harvey, testified that he received pills from a friend in Rhode Island twice, including once in April 2019 when Skaggs requested some.
The prosecution, attempting to convince the jury that Kay was Skaggs’ only source for oxycodone, pointed out that Kay was in rehab for drug addiction during that time.
Harvey, given immunity to testify after being subpoenaed by the government, meticulously detailed his personal drug use, what he knew about Skaggs’ drug use, and hinted that oxycodone use is prevalent across the major leagues.
“Was it uncommon for players to use oxycodone at the time?” U.S. assistant attorney Errin Martin asked.
“No,” Harvey said.
Cron, who played for the Angels from 2014 to 2018, testified that he bought drugs from Kay on eight occasions, including once in 2018 when he played for the Tampa Bay Rays. Cron said he gave Kay the money at Angel Stadium — in the family room or a hallway — and Skaggs dropped the pills off at the Rays’ team hotel.
Morin said he first bought oxycodone pills from Kay in 2016 and 2017 “probably five or six times” while he dealt with thoracic outlet syndrome. He said Skaggs offered Kay as someone who could get him medication to deal with the pain. He said he would leave money for Kay in a cubby in the upper left part of his locker and Kay would leave the pills there.
The prosecution showed a photo of a group text on July 18, 2017 between Kay, Skaggs and Morin in which Kay asked them if they wanted “rockets” for $30 each. He recommended them getting a “good amount” to last them. Morin said he never took drugs with Skaggs and stopped taking pills when he left the Angels after the 2017 season.
Bedrosian testified buying “three or four” pills from Kay. He said he took one and “didn’t feel right” so he return the rest of the pills to Kay. He said he bought pills from Kay “maybe one other time.”
Harvey testified being introduced to oxycodone by Skaggs during spring training in 2019. Harvey recalled going to Skaggs’ residence after playing basketball at the Phoenix Suns’ arena and having a beer when Skaggs showed him a bag of five or six pills. He said Skaggs told them they were oxycodone and Adderall.
Harvey said he didn’t take any pills that day, but Skaggs “talked about taking one.”
Harvey said he used cocaine throughout his major league career and while with the Angels. He said he orally ingested a piece of an oxycodone pill with Skaggs once at Angel Stadium later in the season. He testified that he didn’t like the effect.
“It felt overwhelming to me,” Harvey said. “I didn’t have a good feeling … I felt shaky and sweaty.”
Harvey said he used oxycodone after the experience, but “not frequently.” He said Skaggs told him he would occasionally crush oxycodone pills and snort them in the Angels’ clubhouse bathroom.
Harvey said he shared “three, maybe four” pink pills — he said he doesn’t remember if they were Percocet or oxycodone — with Skaggs in June 2019. The prosecution then introduced evidence to the jury of a Google search for a “K56 pink pill” Skaggs made on his phone on June 7, 2019 around the time Harvey gave him the pills and shortly before the Angels went on a trip that Harvey, who was on the injured list, didn’t go on.
Harvey testified that Skaggs texted him asking for two pills to get “loosey goosey” after the trip. Harvey said he gave him six or seven Percocet pills — all that he had left from the batch he received from his friend in Rhode Island — in the Angels’ clubhouse on June 22. Harvey said he didn’t know of another drug source for Skaggs.
Harvey testified he believed he would join the Angels on their upcoming trip — the team was scheduled to leave on the night of June 30 to Texas — but said he found out the night before that he wasn’t going. He said he was “upset” and “felt left out” so he went to a bathtub to calm down. On the way, he said he ran into Kay, who had recently returned from rehab. He said Kay mentioned having blue oxycodone pills and they talked about Harvey receiving one. Harvey said Kay left it at his locker.
Harvey said he decided not to take the pill that night because he had “cooled off” — he was no longer as angry about missing the trip — and he had to drive home to Newport Beach.
That night, the Angels flew to Texas. The next afternoon, Skaggs was found dead. Percocet was found in the room, but he died with fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system, according to the autopsy report. Harvey said he threw away the pill he received from Kay when he arrived at Angel Stadium because he didn’t want to have anything to do with that happened and “I was very scared.” He said he went to Texas the next day to be with the team and recalled a brief conversation with Kay.
Harvey testified that Kay “seemed very on edge … nervous.”
“He said something about ‘staying together during this time,’ ” Harvey said.
Asked why he believed Kay had told him that, Harvey said because he thinks Kay had heard he had given Skaggs pills. He said he assumed Kay also gave him pills. During cross-exmination, however, Harvey testified he didn’t know for sure if Skaggs had received the pills that led to his death from Kay and he didn’t know the extent of Skaggs’ drug use.
The Angels released Harvey on July 21, less than three weeks after Skaggs died, after posting a 7.09 ERA in 12 starts.