HOUSTON (Sports Radio 610) -- Former Major League Baseball infielders Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car accident Thursday in Venezuela. Reports are the two were in a car when they hit a rock and veered off the road.
Another former MLB player, Carlos Rivero, also was in the car and survived.
Valbuena, who had turned 33 last week, played 11 seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angeles, hitting .226 with 114 home runs. He was a free agent this offseason. He had his best seasons with the Astros, hitting a career-high 25 home runs in 2015 as they reached the postseason.
Castillo was 37. He played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros from 2004-08. He had a .254 average with 39 home runs.
“I am so sad to hear about the sudden loss of Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo," Astros manager AJ Hinch said in a statement. "I will miss Luis’ banter, smile, genuine love for his teammates, and, of course, the bat flips. He was a beloved person whether he was on our team or across the field. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the lucky ones who could call him a teammate or friend."
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said: “Luis was always smiling and was one of the happiest players in baseball. He provided joy to his teammates and our fans. He helped our franchise turn a corner in 2015 and provided many cherished memories. We will forever remember him.”