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By Erik Ortiz
Former Major League Baseball infielders Luis Valbuena and José Castillo were killed in a car accident Thursday in Venezuela, where the men were playing in a winter league, their former teams announced.
Details of the incident were not immediately available, although local reports said Valbuena, 33, and Castillo, 37, were in a car with two others: a driver and another winter league teammate, Carlos Rivero, who also played professional baseball in the United States.
The car was traveling in Yarucuy, in northern Venezuela, when it reportedly collided with a rock that had rolled onto the road. Rivero and the driver survived, tweeted local baseball news outlet BeisbolPlay.
Valbuena, a native of Venezuela, was an 11-year veteran of the majors, playing with the Seattle Mariners, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. He most recently played for the Los Angeles Angels as a first and third baseman until August, and became a free agent.
Castillo, also of Venezuela, played for a handful of teams in the majors from 2004 to 2008, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants and his last team, the Houston Astros. He later played in Japan.
The players’ former teams and teammates remembered the men on social media.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Angel Luis Valbuena and former MLB infielder José Castillo,” the Angels tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones during this time of grief.”