MLB Pitcher Matt Harvey Says Players Using Oxycodone was Common in 2019

MLB pitcher Matt Harvey testified in federal court on Tuesday that he believed it was not uncommon for players to use the drug oxycodone in 2019, and that he did it with then-Los Angeles Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs, who died of a fentanyl overdose in the summer of 2019.

Harvey and other MLB players have testified in the trial of Eric Kay, the Angels' former communications director who is accused of providing Skaggs with the drugs that killed him, The Washington Post reported. Harvey said he and Skaggs ingested drugs inside the Angels' stadium in 2019 and said Skaggs told him he would occasionally crush the pills and snort them in the bathroom of the stadium's clubhouse, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times posted on Twitter.

Harvey also admitted to prior use of cocaine before he joined the Angels, and said he occasionally shared Percocet pills, which are a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen, that he was given around the start of the 2019 season with Skaggs, according to T.J. Quinn of ESPN. Harvey described MLB's culture as one where players have to play through injuries in order to stay on the field, Quinn reported.

Skaggs died in 2019 while the Angels were on the road to play the Texas Rangers and was found in his hotel room along with pills that were later discovered to be fentanyl, and not oxycodone as they were labeled, according to The Post.

The prosecution's case against Kay is centered around proving that he provided Skaggs with the oxycodone pills prior to his overdose and therefore he likely also provided the pills that were discovered to be fentanyl, The Post reported.

That case gained more focus on Tuesday as Harvey and other former Angels players testified, including C.J. Cron, with the team from 2014 to 2017, Mike Morin, with the team from 2014 through part of the 2017 season, and Cam Bedrosian, with the team from 2014 to 2020.

All three of the other players have testified that they also got oxycodone pills from Kay and that they took them in the stadium, Quinn reported.

Harvey testified that a blue pill was left in his locker by Kay that was similar to the ones found in Skaggs' hotel room the day before Skaggs died, but he had not taken it before he heard about his teammate's death, which led him to throw the pill away, Quinn reported.

Cron also testified that he received pills from Kay about eight times, both when he was with the Angels and after he left the team following the 2017 season to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, and said he never had another source for the pills and knew Skaggs was also taking them at the time, according to Quinn.

Cron, Harvey and Morin all testified that in the spring of 2019, when Kay was in rehab for his own opioid addiction, it seemed like Skaggs was not taking the pills either, through his behavior or a direct admission, Quinn reported.

The culture Harvey described of players taking controlled substances for a competitive edge has been a part of baseball for decades, which largely began after World War II when players returned from military service with amphetamines commonly referred to as "greenies," according to the New York Post. The "greenies" and dozens of similar stimulants that helped players be more alert and overcome fatigue were banned by the league in a 2005 agreement with the players.

The league has seen several other controlled substances used to gain a similar edge, from illegal substances like steroids to legal substances with large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants like energy drinks, former MLB pitcher Dirk Hayhurst wrote for Bleacher Report in 2014.

The defense has argued that it is not proven that fentanyl is what killed Skaggs and said last week that it is possible he overdosed due to the combination of alcohol and oxycodone in his system, The Washington Post reported.

Kay has pleaded not guilty to two charges, one which alleges that he possessed and distributed controlled substances during his time with the Angels, and another that alleges he "knowingly and intentionally" gave Skaggs fentanyl pills while saying they were oxycodone, according to The Washington Post. If convicted, he would face a minimum of 20 years in federal prison.

This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.

Update 2/15/22, 1:30 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional information and context.

Matt Harvey Tyler Skaggs Trial Oxycodone Fentanyl
Matt Harvey testified in federal court Tuesday that it was not uncommon for MLB players to use oxycodone in 2019, around the time that former Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs overdosed on fentanyl. Above, Harvey, of the Baltimore Orioles, in action against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 2021, in New York City. Adam Hunger/Getty Images