Former major league pitcher Pascual Perez, who had a troubled 11-season career that included two suspensions for drug use, was killed at his home in the Dominican Republic in an apparent robbery, police said Thursday.
Perez, who last played in the majors for the New York Yankees in 1991, was found with a severe head wound in a town west of the capital, Santo Domingo, and there was evidence at the scene to suggest that whoever killed him had been searching for money, said Joel Valdemiro, a prosecutor who is involved in the investigation.
No one was in custody and authorities did not reveal whether they had any suspects. Police said there were several assailants and that the house in the town of San Gregrorio de Nigua appeared to have been ransacked.
"It's an act of criminality, unfortunately," Valdemiro said, adding that there is evidence the killing might have been premeditated.
Perez's brother Carlos, a former left-handed pitcher for the Dodgers who spent six years in the majors, confirmed his death.
Perez's ex-wife Maritza Montero found his body about 8:30 a.m. Thursday and investigators said he appeared to have been slain about eight hours earlier.
The precise cause of death has not been determined but officials said Perez, who had suffered severe kidney problems in recent years, had a fractured skull from blows to the head.
Melido Perez, mayor of San Gregorio de Nigua and a right-hander with nine professional seasons, including four with the Yankees, mourned his brother's death.
"It is horrible what is happening in this country," he said. "You're not even safe at home."
Perez, 55, played 11 seasons of in the majors and compiled a lifetime record of 67-68 with the Braves, Pirates, Expos and Yankees. But he was in and out of trouble for much of his career.
"We were shocked to hear the news of Pascual Perez' death earlier today," said Braves president John Schuerholz in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during the aftermath of this tragic event. Pascual left his mark with the Braves organization and will always be remembered fondly by Braves fans."
Perez pitched for Atlanta from 1982-85. He was 15-8 in 1983 and 14-8 in 1984.
The right-hander was first signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in January 1976 as an amateur free agent, according to Baseball-Reference.com, an online sports information site.
His career was a rocky one.
In 1982, Perez helped Atlanta win the National League West title with a 4-4 record. But in August of that season he missed a start because, as he later explained, he missed a highway exit sign and spent almost two hours circling Atlanta Stadium.
While playing for the Braves, he was suspended in April 1984 following his arrest in January of that year in the Dominican Republic on charges of cocaine possession.
He spent two months in drug rehabilitation in 1989 while with the Expos, after failing to complete rehab programs twice before, and avoided a suspension only by agreeing to accept a minimum one-year suspension if he tested positive for cocaine again.
In March 1992, the commissioner's office suspended him after a failed test the day he arrived for spring training with the Yankees. At the time, he was entering the final season of a three-year, $5.7 million contract. He never returned to major league baseball.