Former Angels infielder Luis Valbuena killed in car crash in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Former major league players Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car crash following a winter league game in Venezuela.
The 33-year-old Valbuena and 37-year-old Castillo died late Thursday, according to Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan league.
The team said their vehicle overturned as they were heading to the city of Barquisimeto after a game in the capital, Caracas.
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Angel Luis Valbuena and former MLB infielder José Castillo. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones during this time of grief. pic.twitter.com/GxegOtJXuB
— Angels (@Angels) December 7, 2018
Third baseman Carlos Rivero was in the car and survived, according to beisbolplay.
Valbuena, an 11-year major league veteran, hit .199 with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 96 games this year for the Los Angeles Angels, who released him on Aug. 7.
Castillo played five seasons with Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston. He had a .254 average with 39 home runs.
You're smile will be greatly missed, Luis Valbuena.
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) December 7, 2018
We’re thinking about Luis Valbuena's family today. Our thoughts go to them. RIP to a teammate and a friend…
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) December 7, 2018
So sad to hear the news about Luis Valbuena. He was such a kind and beautiful person. 🙏🏻 for his entire family. RIP my friend. #BaseballFamily
— Mark Gubicza (@Markgubicza) December 7, 2018
I enjoyed watching Luis Valbuena and being around him. One of those guys who always seemed happy. He once explained that he couldn't help but flip his bat because he was having so much fun playing.
Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) December 7, 2018
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a tweet that “I join in the mourning that has overwhelmed the Venezuelan baseball family and all of its fans.”
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement calling it “a very sad day for our sport.”
“It is clear by all the stories today that they loved baseball and made an impact on their teammates and the Clubs they represented,” he said, expressing “my deepest condolences to their families, friends and fans, particularly those in their native Venezuela.”
The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League announced that all three scheduled games Friday were cancelled and it said flags will fly at half-staff in all stadiums for three days.
League president Juan Jose Avila told Union Radio that he was evaluating the possibility of forbidding players to travel in private cars to move between games, saying if the players had been on the team bus, “nothing would have happened to them.”
Venezuelan teams tend to travel in buses protected by security forces.