Jose Castillo died in a car accident in Venezuela last night along with Luis Valbuena. Castillo was the Giants’ Opening Day third baseman in 2008 and had 420 plate appearances in his single season with the team. He was claimed by the Astros on August waivers. Most famously, he was involved in the Giants’ first home triple play turned since 1980.
Castillo and Valbuena were driving together after a game for the winter league’s Cardenales de Lara. In this translated version of the story:
They occupied a vehicle with third baseman Carlos Rivero, who was able to survive the accident that occurred on the track between the states of Yaracuy and Lara. [...] the car was driven by Rivero’s driver, who could not dodge a stone placed on the road. A preliminary report from the authorities at the site presumes that the rock was thrown on the road, a common modus operandi to perpetrate highway robberies .
The car, according to the unofficial version, went to the other side of the road. Castillo and Valbuena were thrown from the truck by the impact. The driver was able to get out alive.
Offseason tragedies like this are always a weird gut check. These are human beings and human beings die all the time, but there’s something odd about a baseball player dying in a car accident. Maybe it’s because I rarely ever think of them in cars. Planes and buses, sure, but it’s easy for me to forget that they’ve got to get around somehow and Major League Baseball’s relative luxuries don’t exist everywhere else. Then again, I’m probably just someone who gets hooked on weird details of bad news to lessen the impact of the bad news.
It’s sad to think this might’ve been part of a robbery of some kind. It’s really crappy to know that baseball players are crime targets upon returning to their home countries. It’s an extra layer of stress and anxiety most of us will never experience and none of us should have to.
For what they’re worth here on this random website, our condolences to the Castillo and Valbuena families.
UPDATE: This accident is now being investigated as a robbery-murder.