MLB

The Los Angeles Angels could face significant sanctions if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs' opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn't inform the commissioner's office.

Eric Kay, currently on paid leave as the Angels' communications director, told federal drug enforcement agents last month that two team employees, including his former supervisor, Tim Mead, were informed of Skaggs' drug use but did not take action. Two sources familiar with the DEA investigation told Outside the Lines about Kay's statements to federal agents, which Kay's attorney, Michael Molfetta, then confirmed.

Under MLB policy, any team employee who isn't a player is obligated to inform the commissioner's office of "any evidence or reason to believe that a Player ... has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited" by MLB.

In baseball's new era of big data, high-definition cameras and tablets in the dugout, pitch-tipping – and how teams decipher and share the information – has become less about gamesmanship and entered something of an ethical gray area.

It's a topic at the forefront this October after Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasnow acknowledged that he was tipping pitches in the ALDS and Houston Astros hitters could be seen seemingly relaying that information.

That would be just fine decades ago, but with the wealth of replays and angles available these days, where is the line?

Yankees special advisor Reggie Jackson says that he was almost in tears Sunday learning that his lame attempt at making jokes with Jim Bowden of the MLB Network played out on live radio.

Mr. October says that he never meant to criticize Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton for missing Game 2 of the American League Championship Series with a strained right quad on the heels of an injury-plagued regular season and that his cursing insults were meant to make fun of Bowden before his on-air interview began.

When realizing his comments were on satellite radio, Jackson ended the interview and went straight to Stanton to apologize. Jackson said he would leave the ballpark before the end of the game to avoid the media and “not to draw a crowd and be a distraction.”

“I immediately spoke to (Yankees media relations VP) Jason Zillo and he advised I go in and talk to G Stanton, which I did,” Jackson wrote in a text Sunday night to NJ Advance Media. “I’d just spent several days with him during his rehab (from a knee injury) and he graciously accept my faux paux.

“Please know this was said to belittle the question, not with intent or malice.”

The incident took place prior to the Yankees’ 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Astros on Sunday at Minute Maid Park when Bowden, a former Cincinnati Reds GM, asked Jackson to do a satellite radio interview for the MLB Network.

Josh Donaldson is well aware of how many fans viewed his $23 million contract through the first two months of this season. At the same time, he is appreciative of how beloved he has become during a power barrage that has positioned this year’s Braves to possibly become just the fourth team in MLB history to have three different players produce a 40-homer season.

“It’s kind of been full circle, right?” Donaldson said. “At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t playing well. But I had confidence in myself and I had confidence in my team that I was going to turn around. Obviously, the fan base has been remarkable all year long showing up and supporting us. We’re winning a lot of games, so it’s fun to be a part of.”

Though the Braves have not yet earned the right to pop champagne, there was certainly a raucous, celebratory feel in the air as they took another step closer toward clinching the National League East when they held on to claim a 4-3 win over the Nationals on Friday night at SunTrust Park. The victory marked Atlanta’s eighth straight win and its 12th straight at home, tying the franchise record in the modern era.

By taking the first two games of this four-game series, the Braves have moved nine games ahead of the Nationals in the division race. They have won eight of the past 11 games played against Washington and their magic number stands at 13 with 20 games remaining.

Luis Severino gave up a homer and struck out five in three-plus innings of work for Double-A Trenton in his second rehab outing on Friday.

According to Yankees manager Aaron Boone, his next appearance could be with the big league club. Severino, sidelined first with rotator cuff inflammation and then a strained lat, has missed the entire season.

“Overall, it was pretty successful,’’ Boone said after the Yankees lost 6-1 to the Red Sox. “We’ll talk about whether one more [minor league start] is beneficial or [if he will] come with us.”

Dellin Betances appeared in his first rehab outing for Trenton in the same game and pitched a scoreless inning. He also has missed the entire year, with first a shoulder injury and then a strained lat.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have had initial conversations about randomly testing players for opioids following an autopsy report that showed oxycodone and fentanyl in the blood of late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

While the discussions are in preliminary stages, both sides expect them to ramp up in the coming weeks and progress in the offseason, sources told ESPN. Though contention on economic issues has sullied the MLB-MLBPA relationship in recent years, they have found common ground on drug-related issues, particularly with performance enhancers.

The national opioid crisis hit baseball with the July 1 death of Skaggs, a 27-year-old left-hander. The autopsy done by the Tarrant County (Texas) medical examiner’s office indicated Skaggs died after choking on his own vomit in his sleep. Skaggs’ family has retained lawyer Rusty Hardin and, in a statement, said his death “may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels.” MLB has launched an investigation into Skaggs’ death.

MLB does not currently test major league players for opioids, though they are on the league’s banned-substance list.

Minor league players, whose drug program is far more stringent, are tested and subject to suspension for positive results. A league spokesman said in the past half-decade, 12 suspensions for opioids have been levied from more than 78,000 tests. Minor league players are placed into a drug-treatment program after the first positive test and suspended following the second.

There is a lot more working for Pete Alonso than pure polar bear strength.

His balanced swing has catapulted him to the major league home run lead with 45 as the Mets host the Phillies on Friday night at Citi Field for the first of three games.

Growing up, Alonso said he studied taekwondo, the art of unarmed self-defense characterized by the extensive use of kicks, and he believes that has helped him become the gifted ballplayer he has developed into in his amazing rookie season.

It really helps with plays at first base where he has shown the ability to hang onto the bag on wide throws just long enough to record the out, saving infielders from throwing errors. Alonso has one of the longest stretches in the game and catches throws far out in front of the bag.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder has mastered the split at first base to get runners out by the slimmest of margins.

When asked about his ability to snare throws, contorting his body at different angles, Alonso revealed the deeper skill set.

It has been less than a month since David Ortiz was released from the hospital, and the former Boston Red Sox slugger was able to be a part of a major milestone in his daughter’s life over the weekend.

Ortiz, who had to undergo extensive surgery after being shot in the back in the Dominican Republic on June 9, helped move his daughter Alex into her college dorm. He shared some photos and wrote about the experience on Instagram.

Mets rookie Pete Alonso, against the Braves on Saturday, night hit a clutch home run that also happened to be his 41st home run of the season. That ties him with Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltran (2006) for the most in a single season in franchise history.

And since it’s a big home run in terms of not only Mets annals but also their 2019 postseason hopes.

Call him Petaters because, you see, his name is Pete and he hits taters. Petaters. Anyhow, that go-ahead home run was, in typical Alonso fashion, not a cheap one: 112 mph off the bat and a distance of 451 feet.

Tiffany Haddish has the hots for Giancarlo Stanton and the “Girls Trip” actress just shot her shot.

The 29-year-old Yankees slugger caught the eye of Haddish and she let the world know about it on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Wednesday night.

“I just want him to pick me up and go like this,” Haddish said, pretending to burp a baby … “‘It’s going to be OKAY. It’s going to be OKAY. Shh. Shh. Shh.’”

Unfortunately for Haddish, the star right fielder is rumored to be dating model Chase Carter.

Bronx Bombers is a conservative nickname these days.

With three home runs before the end of the third inning in Thursday’s game, the New York Yankees became the first team in MLB history to hit 19 home runs over a four-game period, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Gio Urshela hit a pair of homers and Mike Tauchman ripped one of his own against the Toronto Blue Jays to set the new mark.

The Yankees are also coming off a series against the Baltimore Orioles, a team they’ve absolutely pummeled in 2019. On Wednesday, they set a milestone for most homers hit against one club in a single season at 49.

Since Monday’s opener in Baltimore, here’s who’s been responsible for all the home runs.