Val­buena, Castillo die in car crash

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Free agent in­fielder Luis Val­buena and for­mer ma­jor league in­fielder Jose Castillo died on Thurs­day in a car crash in Venezuela, where they were play­ing for a win­ter league team.

Their club, Car­de­nales de Lara, con­firmed the death of Val­buena, 33, and Castillo, 37. Both played for the team on Thurs­day be­fore the ac­ci­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia ac­counts from Venezuela, the crash oc­curred in Yaracuy. Con­flict­ing re­ports in­di­cated the car they were in ei­ther hit a rock or swerved to avoid a rock be­fore go­ing off the road. The chauf­feur and in­fielder Car­los Rivero, a team­mate of Val­buena and Castillo who was also in the car, sur­vived.

All three play­ers were born in Venezuela.

Val­buena was in the ma­jor leagues as re­cently as Au­gust, when he was re­leased by the Los An­ge­les An­gels. He hit.199 with a.253 on-base per­cent­age, a.335 slug­ging per­cent­age, nine homers and 33 RBIs in 96 games for Los An­ge­les this year.

The An­gels tweeted Thurs­day night, “We are deeply sad­dened to hear of the pass­ing of for­mer An­gel Luis Val­buena and for­mer MLB in­fielder Jose Castillo. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones dur­ing this time of grief.”

Pri­mar­ily a third base­man who also saw ac­tion at the other three in­field po­si­tions, Val­buena hit a ca­reer-high 25 homers for the Hous­ton Astros in 2015. In an 11-year ma­jor league ca­reer, he bat­ted.226 with a.310 on-base per­cent­age, a.394 slug­ging per­cent­age, 114 homers and 367 RBIs in 1,011 games.

Val­buena broke into the ma­jor leagues with the Seat­tle Mariners in 2008. He sub­se­quently played for the Cleve­land In­di­ans (2009-11), the Chicago Cubs (2012-14), the Astros (2015-16) and the An­gels (2017-18).

Castillo played five years in the ma­jors, for the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates (2004-07), the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants (2008) and the Astros (2008). In 592 ca­reer games, he hit.254 with a.296 on-base per­cent­age, a.379 slug­ging per­cent­age, 39 homers and 218 RBIs.

He played mostly sec­ond base and third base.

Rivero, 30, had a brief ma­jor league stint with the Bos­ton Red Sox in 2014. He col­lected four hits in seven at-bats (.571 av­er­age) while hit­ting a home run and driv­ing in three runs.

He was in the mi­nor leagues in the United States as re­cently as 2017, play­ing for the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs’ Triple-A Reno af­fil­i­ate. He played this year for Ti­juana in the Mex­i­can League.

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