Highway bandits rob teammates in Venezuela
Former major league players Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car crash caused by highway bandits who then robbed them, officials said Friday.
The 33-year-old Valbuena and 37-yearold Castillo died late Thursday when their SUV crashed as it tried to veer around an object placed in the road, Yaracuy state Gov. Julio Leon Heredia said on his Twitter account.
He said four people have been detained after being found with property of the athletes.
Valbuena and Castillo were teammates on the Cardenales de Lara team in the Venezuelan winter league and were returning from a game in the capital when the crash occurred en route to the city of Barquisimeto.
Third baseman Carlos Rivero was in the car and survived, according to the website beisbolplay.
Valbuena, an 11-year major league veteran, hit .199 with nine homers and 33 RBI in 96 games this year for the Los Angeles Angels, who released him on Aug. 7.
“I will miss Luis’ banter, smile, genuine love for his teammates, and, of course, the bat flips,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said in a statement. “He was a beloved person whether he was on our team or across the field.”
Valbuena hit .226 with 114 home runs over 11 big league seasons with the Angels, Seattle, Cleveland, the Chicago Cubs and Houston.
“Luis was always smiling and was one of the happiest players in baseball,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. “He provided joy to his teammates and our fans. He helped our franchise turn a corner in 2015 and provided many cherished memories.”
Castillo played five seasons with Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston. He had a .254 average with 39 home runs.
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.”
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The 32-year-old Banner is a New York native who was Amherst’s baseball captain and joined the Red Sox front office as a fellow in 2007. He was an assistant in player development (2008-09) and amateur scouting (2009-10), and then served as coordinator of amateur scouting (201012), assistant director of player personnel (2013-15), director of player personnel (2016) and vice president of player personnel (2017-18).
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The Cavaliers also received forward John Henson and 2021 first- and second-round picks from the Bucks, and a 2022 second-rounder from the Wizards. They sent guard George Hill and a 2021 second-round selection to the Bucks, and forward Sam Dekker to the Wizards. The Bucks also got forward Jason Smith from Washington.
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