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Former MLB players Luis Valbuena, José Castillo killed in Venezuela car crash

The men were traveling in a car in northern Venezuela when it reportedly collided with a rock that rolled onto the road.
Image: Luis Valbuena
Luis Valbuena #18 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on July 21, 2018 in Anaheim, California.Rob Leiter / Getty Images

Former Major League Baseball infielders Luis Valbuena and José Castillo were killed in a car crash Thursday in Venezuela, where the men were playing in a winter league, their former teams announced.

The Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros said that Valbuena, 33, and Castillo, 37, died. Local reports said they 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 Yaracuy, 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.

Yaracuy state Gov. Julio Leon Heredia said on Twitter that their SUV crashed as it tried to veer around an object on the road, and officials said some bandits place or throw objects on highways to force vehicles to stop or crash so they can rob the occupants, the Associated Press reported.

Heredia said four people have been detained after being found with property belonging to the athletes, according to the AP.

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."

Associated Press contributed.