Published November 11, 2011
Police in northern Venezuela confirmed via Twitter Thursday that kidnapped Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is alive, The Washington Post reported.
It was not immediately clear how police verified Ramos' status.
Ramos, 24, was kidnapped Wednesday by four armed men driving a four-by-four vehicle, Katherine Vilera, spokeswoman for Ramos' winter league team, the Aragua Tigers, confirmed to the newspaper.
The Venezuelan Embassy to the US confirmed Thursday that police recovered the vehicle believed to have been used in Ramos' kidnapping.
Venezuelan Minister of Interior Justice Tareck El Aissami said the vehicle was found in Bejuma, a town about an hour west of Ramos' hometown of Valencia. The kidnapping reportedly happened about 16 miles (10 km) south of Valencia, in Santa Ines, outside Ramos' mother's home.
Ramos' family had not yet established contact with the kidnappers as of Thursday morning, according to the newspaper.
The Venezuelan Embassy announced Thursday the country's Corps of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations (CICPC) was investigating the incident.
"We have appointed a team of high-level specialists lead by CICPC Sub-director Commissioner Luis Carabin and experts on kidnapping, intelligence and criminal investigation," El Aissami said in a statement.
A spokesman for the US State Department said it was aware of the situation and was monitoring the case closely.
The Nationals and Major League Baseball issued a joint statement Thursday saying MLB was cooperating with the investigation.
"Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time," read the statement.
"Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment."
Ramos had just completed his rookie season with the Nationals, hitting .267 with 15 home runs. He had planned to play about 10 games with the Tigers, starting Thursday.
"I don't know what's going to happen now," said Enrique Brito, a longtime official in the Venezuelan winter league who is close to Ramos' family, according to The Post.
"It's going to be bad for the culture, for the league, for everything. Wilson is one of the best players that we had. It's bad. It's real bad, for all Venezuelan people and fans. We are all shocked."
The State Department has described kidnappings in Venezuela as "a growing industry," with an estimated 9.2 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009,
In 2008, the brother of Arizona Diamondback catcher Henry Blanco was killed -- his body found a day after he was kidnapped in the country.
In 2009, Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba got his son back from kidnappers after paying a ransom, while the mother of former pitcher Victor Zambrano was rescued three days after being taken that same year.
Brito said he expected the kidnappers would demand a ransom.
"I bet you that they will ask him for money," Brito said. "They all ask for money. I pray to the Lord that Wilson will be released soon."