Body of Cardinals rookie Oscar Taveras taken from funeral home to D.R. coroner's office

The body of the St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder, Oscar Taveras, 22, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, were removed from a funeral home in the town of Sosúa in the Dominican Republic where they were being mourned by friends and family.

According to the local daily, Listín, the bodies were taken to the National Institute of Forensic Science in the capital city of Santo Domingo in order to determine an official cause of death.

Taveras, a Dominican native, died Sunday. He was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro that he had brought into the country two weeks before, on a highway between the beaches of Sosúa and Cabarete in the Puerto Plata province, about 215 miles north of Santo Domingo, said Col. Diego Pesqueira of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency. Arvelo was in the passenger seat.

"He wasn't carrying documents at the time of the accident, but his body was identified by family members," Pesqueira said.

National police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said he was told by the mayor of Sosúa that Taveras lost control of his vehicle and went off the road. Local media accounts say it was raining heavily at the time of the crash, which may have led to Taveras losing control of the vehicle and crashing against a tree.

In the U.S., St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Monday he was stunned by the death of 22-year-old outfielder and that his players were struggling with deep anguish after losing a young teammate.

"I was asked last night to give some words regarding the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, but I just simply couldn't," Matheny said. "To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement."

Giants outfielder Juan Perez heard about Taveras' death during Game 5 of the World Series. He hit a two-run double in the eighth inning of San Francisco's 5-0 victory and dedicated the hit to his fallen countryman.

"He's a really close friend of mine," Perez said. "I know his family pretty good, I know his mom, his dad, his brothers, we were really close. It's a huge loss for all his family, his teammates and the people that care about him."

Taveras made his major league debut this year. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games for the NL Central champions.

"I simply can't believe it," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest."

Matheny said the team had forged deep ties and affection for Taveras.

"In my opinion, the word 'love' is the most misused, and misunderstood word in the English language. It is not popular for men to use this word, and even less popular for athletes," he said. "But, there is not a more accurate word for how a group of men share a deep and genuine concern for each other. We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar."

Taveras was a teenager when he signed with St. Louis as an international free agent in 2008. Before this season, Taveras was ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by and Baseball America, and had a .321 average over six minor league seasons. He homered against the Giants' Yusmeiro Petit in his major league debut May 31. He also had a big solo drive in the seventh inning of Game 2 in the NL Championship Series against San Francisco.

"All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Oscar, a young member of the baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago."

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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