Major League Baseball and its players’ union are optimistic talks are progressing on testing for opioids following the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
“The dialogue in this has been really positive with the players association, a lot of common ground on addressing the issue,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday before Game 2 of the World Series. “We understand that our workforce is a microcosm of society. There’s a societal problem.”
Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1 before the start of a series against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.
While the joint program of MLB and the players’ association has testing with penalties for performance-enhancing drugs and banned stimulants, opioids are included in drugs of abuse and not subject to testing with penalties for players on 40-man rosters.
Players with minor league contracts are subject to testing for opioids with discipline.
“Tyler hit home for a number of guys that knew him and a number of guys that didn’t,” union head Tony Clark said. “Whether the players know of another player, they may know somebody in the family that’s struggling with it. So it still hits close to home.”
The joint drug agreement has a provision calling for annual updating.