Former Cincinnati Reds utilityman and fan favorite Ryan Freel has reportedly taken his own life. He was 36 years old.
According to the initial report from First Coast News in Jacksonville, Fla., Freel, who played the majority of his eight-year career with the Reds, committed suicide Saturday.
The Florida Times-Union reported early Sunday morning that Freel was found dead from a self-inflicted shotgun wound Saturday afternoon at his home in Jacksonville.
The newspaper article confirmed the Jacksonville (Fla.) Sheriff's Office was treating the death as a suicide.
The First Coast News report indicates Freel had been working for an organization called Big League Development Baseball that provides sporting opportunities for youth baseball players in his hometown of a Jacksonville since retiring from baseball in 2009.
The former big leaguer played for five different MLB teams from 2001-09, including a six-year stint with the Reds. Freel, who was drafted in the 10th round of the 1995 Amateur Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, stole 35 or more bases three straight seasons for the Reds from 2004-06 and was loved by fans for his hustle and aggressive style of play.
Freel had a .268 batting average and stole 143 bases during his career.
The Cincinnati Reds organization released the following statement:
The Reds family is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Ryan Freel. His teammates and our fans loved him for how hard he played the game, and he loved giving back to the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.