Former utility player Ryan Freel, who broke into the majors with Toronto in 2001 and played the majority of his eight-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, committed suicide today. First Coast News in Jacksonville has the first report:
First Coast News sports director Dan Hicken has learned that Ryan Freel, a Jacksonville native and former Major League Baseball has died at the age of 36. The cause of death is suicide.
Freel played baseball at Sandalwood and Englewood High School. He played for five different MLB teams from 2001-2009. He is most known for his six-year tenure with the Cincinnati Reds.
His career batting average was .268 he stole 143 bases in his career.
Since his retirement from professional baseball in 2009, Freel was a part of an organization on the First Coast called BLD Baseball which stands for Big League Development. Through this organization, Freel coached local youth baseball players.
Freel was named head baseball coach at St. Joseph Academy in June. He shows up in the Deadspin archives on a few occasions which you can see here.
We'll update this post as more information becomes available.
Update, 7:07 a.m.: Police told the Florida Times-Union that Freel was found at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday, dead of a apparent self-inflicted shotgun wound. Police did not find reason to be suspicious of the death, and are treating it as a suicide. The Times-Union also notes that Freel had backed away from his coaching job with St. Joseph's shortly after accepting the position in June.