Venezuelans dismiss players Luis Valbuena and José Castillo



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BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela – Dozens of Venezuelans queued long Saturday outside a chapel in Lara state to bid farewell to Luis Valbuena, the Major League player who died in a pass with teammate Jose Castillo.

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Castillo's body was transferred in the morning to another state in the central region of the country.

Valbuena, 33, and Castillo, 37, were companions of the Cardinals of Lara, in the winter league of Venezuela.

AP Photo / Nestor Vivas

The two died Thursday night as their truck toppled as they tried to escape an object on the road. Officials have explained that criminals place or throw objects on rails to force the braking vehicles to steal the occupants.

The governor of the central state of Yaracuy, Julio León Heredia, reported that four people were arrested after they confiscated the belongings of Valbuena and Castillo.

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The death of the former Venezuelan leagues in a traffic accident has generated strong reactions.

Valbuena and Castillo returned from a game in the capital when the truck turned on the route to the town of Barquisimeto in Lara.

No more details about what happened.

On Saturday, their deaths generated numerous signs of consternation. Companions, family, and fans, wearing the colors of the winter tournament teams, came to give them one last goodbye.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Interbase Phillies of Philadelphia and former Cardinals player Robert Perez were among those present.

The Professional Baseball League of Venezuela has decreed three days of duel in the championship and announced that for the rest of the championship the national flag will remain half mast in all the stadiums and the players of the eight teams will wear mourning marks in their uniforms.

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Players Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo, players of the Lara Cardinals and experienced in the major leagues, died in a car accident in the state of Yaracuy while they were going to Barquisimeto to start a series against Bravos.

Valbuena averaged 226 with 114 homers in a total of 11 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.

Castillo has played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants and Houston. He recorded a batting average of 0.254 with 39 homers.

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