The mother of Pirates catcher Elias Diaz has been kidnapped in their native Venezuela, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette confirmed on Thursday. Multiple reports out of Venezuela have indicated the kidnapping took place Thursday afternoon in the Venezuelan state of Zulia.
According to the Gazette report, Diaz, who’s appeared in 67 games for Pittsburgh over the last three seasons, was in the United States preparing to report to Pirates camp in Bradenton, Fla., at the time of the kidnapping. Pirates pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training on Tuesday.
In wake of the news, Pirates president Frank Coonelly released a statement expressing shock, while vowing to lend whatever support or resources are needed.
“We are all shocked and deeply concerned for Elias’ mother, as well as for Elias and his entire family. We have Elias’ mom and Elias’ entire family in our prayers. We are using all of the resources available at the Pirates and Major League Baseball to support Elias and his family during this incredibly difficult time. As we work with authorities on his mom’s safe return, we will withhold further comment and ask that you please respect the family’s need for privacy.”
Sadly, such events are not uncommon in Venezuela. It’s also not the first time the baseball world has been impacted.
In 2011, then Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped by four alleged abductors in Venezuela as they sought financial gain. Ramos was found unharmed two days later, but authorities had to orchestrate a dangerous rescue that included exchanging gunfire with Ramos’ captors.
The increase in kidnappings and robberies stem from the country’s increasingly unstable and violent social and political climate. Players like Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gonzalez have been outspoken about threats made against their families in the past. Many players have been forced to move their families out of the country completely because of safety concerns. Cabrera says threats were made on his life if he returned to his homeland because he’s been so outspoken.
It’s a troubling situation that clearly isn’t improving. For the sake of Elias Diaz and his family, let’s just hope there’s a happy ending for them.
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