Ex-major leaguers Valbuena, Castillo die in Venezuela crash

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Former main league gamers Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo have been killed in a automobile crash in Venezuela brought on by freeway bandits who then robbed them, officers mentioned Friday.

The 33-year-old Valbuena and 37-year-old Castillo died late Thursday when their SUV crashed because it tried to veer round an object on the street, Yaracuy state Gov. Julio Leon Heredia mentioned on his Twitter account. Officers mentioned some bandits place or throw objects on highways to pressure autos to cease or crash to allow them to rob the occupants.

Heredia mentioned 4 individuals have been detained after being discovered with property of the athletes.

Valbuena and Castillo have been teammates on the Cardenales de Lara staff within the Venezuelan winter league and have been coming back from a sport within the capital when the crash occurred en path to town of Barquisimeto.

Third baseman Carlos Rivero was within the automobile and survived, in keeping with the web site beisbolplay.

Valbuena, an 11-year main league veteran, hit .199 with 9 homers and 33 RBIs in 96 video games this yr for the Los Angeles Angels, who launched him on Aug. 7.

“I’ll miss Luis’ banter, smile, real love for his teammates, and, in fact, the bat flips,” Astros supervisor AJ Hinch mentioned in a press release. “He was a beloved individual whether or not he was on our staff or throughout the sphere.”

Valbuena hit .226 with 114 dwelling runs over 11 large league seasons with the Angels, Seattle, Cleveland, the Chicago Cubs and Houston.

“Luis was all the time smiling and was one of many happiest gamers in baseball,” Astros normal supervisor Jeff Luhnow mentioned in a press release. “He offered pleasure to his teammates and our followers. He helped our franchise flip a nook in 2015 and offered many cherished recollections.”

Castillo performed 5 seasons with Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston. He had a .254 common with 39 dwelling runs.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro mentioned in a tweet that “I be a part of within the mourning that has overwhelmed the Venezuelan baseball household and all of its followers.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a press release calling it “a really unhappy day for our sport.”

“It’s clear by all of the tales in the present day that they liked baseball and made an influence on their teammates and the Golf equipment they represented,” he mentioned, expressing “my deepest condolences to their households, buddies and followers, notably these of their native Venezuela.”

By late Friday afternoon, the coffins with the gamers’ our bodies had arrived in Antonio Herrera Gutierrez stadium in Barquisimeto the place they have been acquired amid tears by their teammates. A Mass was held to bid them good bye.

The Venezuelan Skilled Baseball League introduced that every one three scheduled video games Friday have been cancelled and it mentioned flags will fly at half-staff in all stadiums for 3 days.

League president Juan Jose Avila informed Union Radio that he was evaluating the opportunity of forbidding gamers from touring in non-public automobiles to maneuver between video games, saying if the gamers had been on the staff bus, “nothing would have occurred to them.”

Venezuelan groups are inclined to journey in buses protected by safety forces.

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Extra AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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