Angels: 'Our team will never be the same'

July 3rd, 2019

A day after Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs' death at 27 years old in Texas, the Angels held a press conference with owner Arte Moreno, club president John Carpino, general manager Billy Eppler and manager Brad Ausmus on Tuesday at Globe Life Park.

Flanked by two Skaggs No. 45 jerseys hanging behind them, Eppler was the first to make a statement about Skaggs.

"These are not the circumstances we ever wanted to hold a press conference," Eppler said. "We lost a family member yesterday. He was a teammate, he was a brother, a friend, and most important of all he was a husband and a son. He was a young man with so much life to live. He lives on only now in our minds and our hearts. Our team will never be the same.”

Angels players attended the press conference to show their support but were not made available to the media prior to Tuesday’s game vs. the Rangers to allow them their privacy. Monday’s game was postponed and will be made up in August.

The Angels then went out and won, 9-4, scoring in the first inning but then falling behind, 3-1, before coming back. The clubhouse remained closed after the game, but 15 players joined Ausmus at a postgame interview session. Fighting back tears, Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, Andrew Heaney and Justin Upton all spoke of Skaggs.

"There are no words to express our sadness today,” Moreno said before the game. “We want to express our deepest condolences to Skaggs’ family. Our hearts go out to his wife, Carli. We will continue to be there."

The Rangers announced earlier in the day that Tuesday’s game was to be played as scheduled and that a moment of silence would be held prior to the game. All proceeds from the Texas 2 Split raffle will also be donated to the Angels Baseball Foundation.

Eppler said he spoke with the players and they agreed it would be best to play the game as scheduled on Tuesday.

"I don't want to speak for them, but it was what Tyler would want,” Eppler said. “And that also it's a time to allow them to get back into a routine and have a period of time where they feel disconnected. A lot of problems go away when the first pitch is thrown until the last pitch is thrown. They'll be out there playing for Tyler with heavy hearts tonight."

Ausmus, who was visibly emotional while speaking about Skaggs, described him as the kind of teammate that everyone liked and looked up to.

"I knew Skaggy a little bit from last year being around the ballclub, but once I was hired, I had lunch with him up in Santa Monica at one of his spots he liked to go,” Ausmus said. “And I told Skaggs I thought he could be an All-Star … The more I was around him, he was just a happy person. He's got the type of personality that draws others in. He's goofy in a very good, funny way.”

Eppler described how Skaggs treated people the right way and that his death has had such a ripple effect throughout baseball because of the countless lives he touched.

“He was consistent with everybody,” Eppler said. “His reach and his impact, I think everybody is going to discover over the coming weeks, the coming months, because the outpouring that we have felt that we've experienced has been pretty remarkable. He impacted a lot of people and the community. He was a staple in our community with all of the efforts of the Angels throughout Southern California. There are so many people who knew Tyler and loved Tyler. I have yet to run into somebody who hasn't."

Ausmus also described what the team did on Monday after hearing the news about Skaggs, who according to Southlake Police was found unresponsive in a hotel room at 2:18 p.m. CT Monday and was pronounced dead on the scene.

"The team all got together a couple times,” Ausmus said. “Some of the guys spoke. I think most importantly we were able to talk about Tyler and laugh about some of the stories and some of the goofy things he did. Listen to his music. So it was good."

The Angels sadly went through a similar tragedy 10 year ago, when fellow pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver after his first start of the 2009 season. Like with Adenhart, the Angels will wear a patch this season with No. 45 to honor Skaggs.

“We're doing similar stuff that we did in '09 when Nick passed away,” Carpino said. “There's not a playbook, but there's a lot of similar things that you do to try to honor them. You're never going to honor them enough. The way we'll honor them both is just watching these guys play. As far as the stadium, just typical with a patch and all that. And honoring them so much more with our thoughts and hearts is the most important thing."

Ausmus said several managers who went through similar tragedies reached out to him.

“To a man, it's the same advice and that is there's no handbook for this,” Ausmus said. “You just kind of got to go with your honest feelings. If you do that, I think that you're not going to be wrong."

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who is not active on social media, released a statement on Tuesday.

“Tyler was a close teammate of mine since joining the Angels last year,” the statement read. “Words cannot express how deeply saddened I am by his sudden passing. My sincerest condolences go out to his family.”