CARACAS, Venezuela – Ex-major league players Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car accident in Venezuela, after road robbers stole them, officials said on Friday.
Valbuena, 33, and Castillo, 37, died on Thursday night while their SUV crashed while trying to get around an object on the road, announced on Monday. Twitter account, the governor of the State of Yaracuy, Julio Leon Heredia. According to officials, bandits place or throw objects on highways to force vehicles to stop or crash to steal occupants.
Heredia said four people were arrested after being found with the property of the athletes.
Valbuena and Castillo were teammates of the Cardenales de Lara team in the Venezuelan Winter League and were returning from a match in the capital when the crash occurred towards the city of Barquisimeto.
Third baseman Carlos Rivero was in the car and survived, according to the beisbolplay website.
Valbuena, an 11-year-old major league veteran, beat .199 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs in 96 games this year with the Los Angeles Angels, who released him on Aug. 7.
"Luis will be lacking jokes, smiling, sincere love for his teammates and, of course, bats," Astros director AJ Hinch said in a statement. "He was a beloved person, whether he's on our team or in the field."
Valbuena averaged .226 with 114 home runs in 11 major seasons with the Angels, Seattle, Cleveland, the Chicago Cubs and Houston.
"Luis was always smiling and was one of the happiest players in baseball," said Astros CEO Jeff Luhnow in a statement. "He brought joy to his teammates and fans. He helped our franchise take a turn in 2015 and provided many valuable memories. "
Castillo played five seasons in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston. He had a .254 average with 39 runs at home.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a tweet: "I join the mourning that has overwhelmed the family of Venezuelan baseball and all its fans."
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement calling the day "a very sad day for our sport"
"It's clear from all the stories of today that they love baseball and have had an impact on their teammates and the clubs they've represented," he said. he said, expressing "my deepest condolences to their families, their friends and their fans, especially those of their native Venezuela. "
At the end of Friday afternoon, the caskets containing the players' bodies had arrived at the Antonio Herrera Gutierrez stadium in Barquisimeto where they were received in the midst of tears by their teammates. A mass was organized to say goodbye.
The Venezuelan professional baseball league announced the cancellation of the three games scheduled for Friday and said the flags will flag half of the staff in all stages for three days.
The league president, Juan Jose Avila, told Union Radio that he was evaluating the possibility of banning players from traveling in private cars from moving between matches, saying that if the players had taken place in the bus of the team, nothing would have happened to them.
Venezuelan teams tend to travel on buses protected by security forces.
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