December 7, 2018 / 3:58 PM / 11 days ago

Two ex-Major League Baseball players die in car crash in Venezuela

FILE PHOTO: Chicago Cubs' Luis Valbuena reacts after hitting a double against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning of their National League MLB baseball game in Chicago, Illinois, September 21, 2013 REUTERS/Jim Young

CARACAS (Reuters) - Two former Major League Baseball players died on Friday in a car accident in Venezuela, where they had been playing for a local team in the Venezuelan winter league, MLB said in a statement.

The players, Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo, had been driving with two teammates back to the city of Barquisimeto early Friday morning when their car hit a rock in the road just before 2 a.m. local time, according to the club’s spokesman and a police report.

They played in a match on Thursday for the Cardenales de Lara team against Leones del Caracas. The two teammates in the car, one of whom was the driver, were injured but survived, the spokesman said.

Valbuena, 33, played for the Los Angeles Angels last season before being released in August. He also played for the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros over 11 major league seasons.

Castillo, 37, last appeared in the majors for the Astros in 2008. He also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants during five major league seasons.

Both Valbuena and Castillo played in the Venezuelan winter league for the Cardenales, the home team for Barquisimeto, capital of Lara state. The Cardenales are leading the league, which ends in early 2019.

“We are living through a horrible tragedy,” the Cardenales said on Twitter.

Reporting by Keren Torres in Barquisimeto; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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