Ex-Gi­ant in­fielder Castillo, Val­buena killed in car crash

The Mercury News - - Puzzles -

For­mer Gi­ants in­fielder Jose Castillo and for­mer ma­jor lea­guer Luis Val­buena were killed in a car crash in Venezuela caused by high­way ban­dits who then robbed them, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

Castillo, 37, and Val­buena, 33, 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.

Castillo and Val­buena were team­mates on the Car­de­nales de Lara team in the Venezue­lan win­ter league and were re­turn­ing from a game in the cap­i­tal of Caracas 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.

Castillo played five sea­sons with Pitts­burgh, the Gi­ants and Hous­ton. He had a .254 ca­reer av­er­age with 39 home runs. He played most of the 2008 sea­son with the Gi­ants, bat­ting .244 with six homers, 35 RBIs and 42 runs in 112 games. Af­ter be­ing des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment in Au­gust, he was claimed by Hous­ton, where he fin­ished the sea­son.

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.

“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 Jose Castillo, 37, was killed Thurs­day in a car crash in Venezuela along with for­mer ma­jor lea­guer Luis Val­buena.

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.”

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.” NA­TION­ALS OWNER THINKS HARPER IS GONE >> As with most things in­volv­ing the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ off­sea­son, a day that was sup­posed to be all about in­tro­duc­ing Patrick Corbin mor­phed into a day about Bryce Harper.

Wash­ing­ton an­nounced its six-year con­tract with Corbin, a heav­ily back­loaded deal worth $140 mil­lion, and the All-Star lefty starter donned a No. 46 Na­tion­als jer­sey as ro­ta­tion­mates Max Scherzer and Stephen Stras­burg looked on from the front row Fri­day. Af­ter the news con­fer­ence, gen­eral man­ager Mike Rizzo was asked a key ques­tion:

How might the big bucks he used to out­bid the Yan­kees and Phillies for Corbin af­fect the pur­suit of Wash­ing­ton’s own big-deal free agent, right fielder Harper?

“I think they’re in­de­pen­dent of each other. I re­ally do. We’ve gone about this busi­ness of cre­at­ing a ros­ter for 2019, and at the end of the day, we’ll fig­ure out whether that in­cludes ‘Harp’ or not,” Rizzo said. “We thought it was good busi­ness we had to fix the things we needed to fix. ‘Harp’ is a big part of our fam­ily, and we’d love to have him back.”

But in an in­ter­view Fri­day with ra­dio sta­tion 106.7 The Fan, Na­tion­als owner Mark Lerner painted a dif­fer­ent pic­ture about where things stand with Harper, who didn’t ac­cept a late­sea­son of­fer from Wash­ing­ton.

“I re­ally don’t ex­pect him to come back at this point,” Lerner said. “I think they’ve de­cided to move on. There’s just too much money out there that he’d be leav­ing on the ta­ble.”

Lerner also de­scribed the team’s ear­lier of­fer to the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP, re­port­edly for $300 mil­lion over 10 years, as “the best we can do.”

The Harper is­sue hangs over all of base­ball as the win­ter meet­ings are set to be­gin Mon­day in Las Ve­gas.

Corbin is a two-time NL All-Star who was 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA for Ari­zona in 2018.

RICHARDS FI­NAL­IZES CON­TRACT >> Free agent pitcher Gar­rett Richards and the San Diego Padres fi­nal­ized a $15.5 mil­lion, twoyear con­tract. Richards will earn $7 mil­lion next year and $8.5 mil­lion in 2020 as part of the deal.


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