Two MLB Infielders killed in altercation with Venezuelan Bandits

Josh Hobbs

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On the morning of December 6th, Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo, former major league baseball players, died in a car crash in Venezuela. The crash occurred after the two players left the University Stadium at Caracas after playing in a game in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Venezuelan authorities have reached a decision that Valbuena and Castillo were heading to the city of Barquisimeto, where the location of their next game was. Carlos Rivero was also in the car but survived.

Local officials first thought that the accident was caused due to sliding rock along the road, which caused their car to merge into the opposite lane and off the road trying to avoid the rock. New updates in the incident have now led officials to believe that the objects and rocks that fell onto the highway were thrown by local bandits. Once their car was stopped, the bandits robbed whatever was valuable in the car. This has been an ongoing issue throughout the country and has now claimed the lives of two professional baseball players.

Valbuena, 33, started his MLB career in 2008 with the Seattle Mariners and ended up for playing for other teams such as the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, and the Los Angeles Angels. This last season for the Angels, Valbuena had a batting average of .199 with 9 home runs and 33 RBIs. He was later released by the team on August 7.  Castillo, 37, played 5 seasons is the MLB for the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and the Houston Astros. He had a career average of .254 with 39 home runs.

The next day, a mass was held for teammates and families of the two players to be honored and seen for the last time. The Venezuelan Baseball League announced that all three scheduled games were canceled in honor of the fallen players.

Junior Joe Sandberg, a notable baseball fan, expressed his reaction to the car crash: “…I was shocked, I couldn’t believe the tactics that were used to kill them.”

This, unfortunately, isn’t the first death of a baseball player in a Latin American country. Only a few years ago, starting pitcher Yordano Ventura also died in a car crash. With these deaths, it raises the question of whether there needs to be a policy put in forth to address these horrible deaths and protect players in the future.