Former Twins catcher Wilson Ramos kidnapped in Venezuela
By JORGE RUEDA
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted by gunmen Wednesday from his home in his native Venezuela.
Ramos, 24, was taken away in an SUV by four armed men in Santa Ines in central Carabobo state, Kathe Vilera, spokeswoman for the catcher's Venezuelan League team, said through her official Twitter account.
"This is sad, worrisome and true that Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped," she said. Ramos was playing winter ball with the Aragua Tigers.
She said the rising Major League Baseball star was kidnapped at 6:45 p.m. local time (2315 GMT) and that police have been notified. Santa Ines lies about 150 kilometers (95 miles) west of Venezuela's capital, Caracas.
A person close to Ramos' family, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said the catcher was at home with his father and brothers when several men "entered the house and took him away."
"As of this hour, there has been no contact" between the kidnapper and Ramos' family, the person said.
Ramos is considered one of the Nationals' young building blocks as they try to become a contender in the National League East. As a rookie in 2011, he hit .267 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs in 113 games. He also threw out 19 of 67 runners attempting to steal a base, a 28 percent success rate that ranked third among qualifying catchers in the National League.
Washington acquired Ramos from the Minnesota Twins in a trade in July 2010. The Twins got All-Star closer Matt Capps in the deal.
Spokesmen for the Nationals did not respond immediately to phone and email messages Wednesday night.
In Venezuela, which is home to dozens of Major League Baseball players, the families of wealthy athletes are periodically targeted by kidnappers in hopes of a hefty ransom. This appears to be the first case of a Major League player himself being kidnapped.
In November 2009, the then 56-year-old mother of former big league pitcher Victor Zambrano was rescued in a "commando-style operation" after a three-day kidnapping ordeal.
Zambrano's mother was abducted nine days after his cousin, Richard Mendez Zambrano, was kidnapped and later killed. Zambrano played for seven years in the big leagues until 2007.
In June 2009, Colorado Rockies' catcher Yorvit Torrealba's then 11-year-old son and brother-in-law were kidnapped and released a day later.
In early 2005, the mother of former pitcher Ugueth Urbina spent more than five months in captivity until she was rescued in early 2005.
Around the same time, the mothers of five Brazilian soccer players were abducted in Brazil, including those of star strikers Robinho and Luis Fabiano. (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)