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Associated Press Ryan Freel, a former Major League Baseball player known for his fearless play but whose career was cut short after eight seasons by a series of head and other injuries, was found dead Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Freel, who was 36, died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted shotgun wound, a sheriff’s office spokesman wrote in an email Sunday. The medical examiner will make the final determination of the cause of death. “RIP Ryan Freel!! Great teammate, great guy,n loved his family!” former Cincinnati Reds teammate Sean Casey tweeted. “Such a sad day today with his passing!Awful news!Prayers are with his family!” “Really hurt by his passing!” Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said on Twitter. “You’ll never will be forgotten.” The speedy Freel spent six of his eight big-league seasons with the Reds and finished his career in 2009 with a .268 average and 143 steals. Freel showed no fear as he ran into walls, hurtled into the seats and crashed into other players trying to make catches. He was praised by those he played with and against for always having a dirt-stained uniform. He was in center field when he collided with right fielder Norris Hopper’s elbow on May 28, 2007, an injury that caused Freel to be taken off the field in an ambulance. Freel sustained a concussion that caused headaches and an impaired memory, and he didn’t return until early July. He then suffered a season-ending knee surgery in August. He sustained another head injury that put him back on the DL when he was hit by a pickoff throw to second base from Boston pitcher Justin Masterson during the Patriots Day game at Fenway Park on April 20, 2009.


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