Matt Harvey suspended after testifying he gave drugs to Tyler Skaggs

Matt Harvey suspended after testifying he gave drugs to Tyler Skaggs

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Baltimore Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey received a 60-game suspension without pay for a violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In an MLB ad on Tuesday, Harvey was cited for “participating in the distribution of a prohibited drug of abuse.”

The punishment, retroactive to an April 29 start date, comes months after Harvey testified in federal court that he provided oxycodone to former Los Angeles Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs.

Skaggs, another pitcher, was found dead in 2019 in a hotel room in Texas near where the Angels were scheduled to face the host Rangers. Authorities later determined he had choked on his own vomit while intoxicated with a combination of opioids, including oxycodone and fentanyl, and alcohol. After a federal trial this year – in which Harvey testified under an immunity agreement – ​​former Angels communications director Eric Kay was found guilty of supplying Skaggs with the drugs that resulted in the death of the 27-year-old young man.

Harvey, now 33, admitted during the trial that he had a ‘history’ of partying during his career, including cocaine use, and that it was not uncommon for him to and other Angels players take oxycodone and occasionally give it to each other. The 2019 season was his only as a member of the Angels, following several years with the New York Mets and a brief stint with the Cincinnati Reds.

Following his release from the Angels in July 2019, weeks after Skaggs’ death, Harvey signed a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics. He joined the Kansas City Royals in 2020 on a similar deal and made four major league starts, then became a regular last season in the Orioles rotation.

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Although he had a 6.27 ERA for Baltimore, Harvey finished second on the team in innings and provided experience to an otherwise young staff. The Orioles brought Harvey back in April on a minor league contract, and he trained at the team’s extended spring training facility in Sarasota, Florida.

“We support all aspects of MLB’s joint substance abuse prevention and treatment program and their decision in this particular case,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said in a statement Tuesday. “I am happy that Matt now has the opportunity to put this part of his past behind him and pursue another chance with our organization after serving his suspension.”

The Mets’ 2010 first-round pick from the University of North Carolina, Harvey made an impressive major league debut in 2012 and earned an all-star draft the following season, during which he posted an ERA. 2.27 in 26 starts, with 191 strikeouts and 31 walks. Harvey missed 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, then posted a 2.71 ERA in 2015 while helping the Mets reach the World Series. Midway through the 2016 campaign, Harvey underwent a season-ending procedure to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, and he hasn’t been the same pitcher since. While bouncing around the majors from 2017 to 2021, Harvey racked up a 6.15 ERA in 98 appearances.

When Baltimore re-signed Harvey in April, Elias said it was “a very unique situation right now with everything he was involved in that came to light over the winter.”

“He’s in the situation he’s in right now because of things off the pitch,” the general manager added at the time, “but getting to know him last year, understanding his approach to what happens, our view is that it was something that should not prevent him from having another chance in this organization, especially with the way he carried himself last year. …I know his stat line wasn’t the prettiest, but the innings he pitched, how lucky he was and – I think most importantly for us – the pro and teammate he was , helping us through a very difficult season, was something we wanted to come back to.

MLB also announced Tuesday that Milwaukee Brewers pitcher JC Mejía received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for stanozolol, a synthetic steroid. Mejía, 25, is the second Milwaukee player to receive the punishment this season, following wide receiver Pedro Severino, who tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug clomiphene.

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