Police have arrested four people suspected of robbing former Angels infielder Luis Valbuena and former Pirates second baseman José Castillo after the two players were killed in a car accident in Venezuela late Thursday evening, after playing in a winter league game in his native Venezuela, for the Cardenales de Lara team.
33-year-old Valbuena and 37-year-old Castillo’s SUV crashed as it tried to veer around an object on the road, officials said some bandits place or throw objects on highways to force vehicles to stop or crash so they can rob the occupants. Yaracuy state governor Julio Leon Heredia said four people have been detained after being found with property that belong to the athletes.
Valbuena played 11 seasons in the majors and last played for the Angels in 2018 before being released in August 7th. He finished his career with a .226 batting average with 114 home runs and 367 RBIs.
Castillo played five seasons in the majors from 2004 to 2008 and had stints with with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants before finishing his career with the Astros, recording a career .254 batting average with 39 home runs and 218 RBIs.
Third baseman Carlos Rivero was in the car and survived the accident and robbery.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement calling it “a very sad day for our sport.”
The Angels called Valbuena “A teammate, competitor, and friend.”
A teammate, competitor, and friend.
— Angels (@Angels) December 7, 2018
The Pirates also offered their condolences:
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Pirates infielder José Castillo.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/yKw7soe8Ic
— Pirates (@Pirates) December 7, 2018
Friday afternoon, the coffins with the players’ bodies arrived in Antonio Herrera Gutierrez stadium in Barquisimeto, where they were received amid tears by their teammates. A mass was held to bid them goodbye.
The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League announced that all three scheduled games Friday were canceled and said flags will fly at half-staff in all stadiums for three days.