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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, July 13, 2019 1:00 am

Skaggs looms over Angels

GREG BEACHAM | Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Tyler Skaggs' jersey hangs in his untouched locker in the Los Angeles Angels' clubhouse, his pristine cleats and gloves ready for a ballgame.

The big stereo system in the room's center is silent because the affable left-hander who controlled the Angels' musical choices is no longer here.

And on the far wall of the clubhouse, two photos of Skaggs now flank his competitive catchphrase written in foot-high letters: “WE'RE NASTY.”

The late pitcher's grieving teammates returned to Angel Stadium on Friday night for the first time since Skaggs was found in his hotel room in Texas nearly two weeks ago.

His presence will be felt at the stadium for the rest of the Angels' season, from his intact locker to a large likeness of the pitcher now displayed prominently on the center field wall.

“He's still a part of the team, even though he's not here,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said.

A memorial created by fans in front of the Big A's main entrance has grown to the size of a pitcher's mound, with hats, signs and baseballs and other Angels memorabilia delivered to the stadium by heartbroken fans over the past 10 days.

Most of the Angels saw the memorial in person for the first time when they returned from a difficult road trip and the ensuing All-Star break.

The Angels planned a pregame ceremony to celebrate Skaggs' life before they faced the Seattle Mariners on the day before what would have been the pitcher's 28th birthday.

“I think guys will become emotional again, because it is still very fresh,” Ausmus said. “That's fine. We're human beings. There's nothing wrong with that.”

The baseball season's relentless pace forces the Angels to grieve while they play, and they're back to work after a somber All-Star break during which Skaggs was honored at the game in Cleveland on Tuesday.