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Posted at 08:31 AM ET, 11/10/2011

State Department monitoring case; Nationals issue statement on Wilson Ramos kidnapping


(JOHN SOMMERS II - REUTERS)

UPDATE, 3:30: The U.S. State Department is monitoring the case of Wilson Ramos’s kidnapping but has not been contacted by Venezuelan authorities or Major League Baseball, a State Department spokesman said. Ramos is not a U.S. citizen.

“We are certainly aware of the case, you know, monitoring it closely,” spokesman Mark Toner said. “We’ve not had any contact with the family or with Major League Baseball as of yet. I checked before coming down here. You know, he’s not a U.S. citizen. He is a — I believe — a green card holder.

“It’s obviously of great concern to us. You know, we did cite in our country-specific information the very real dangers of kidnapping and violent crime in Venezuela. And we condemn these kinds of violent acts. And you know, we stand by to help in whatever way possible the family, if they contact us.”

UPDATE, 12:45:The Nationals and Major League Baseball issued a joint statement:

“Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. 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. ”

UPDATE, 12:40: Minor league pitcher Ryan Tatusko, one of the Nationals’ players in Venezuela to play winter, said the Nationals called him first thing this morning to ensure he was safe. The Nationals are going to inform him “ASAP” if he’s staying or leaving the country, Tatusko said.

UPDATE, 12:20 p.m.: A Venezuelan police Twitter feed says: “State law enforcement officials confirm ballplayer Ramos alive.” 

Post correspondent Juan Forero will provide more details shortly.

UPDATE, 11:20 a.m.: The Ramos family has still not heard word from the kidnappers and is urging the public to remain calm and not spread rumors, a close friend of the Ramos family said. 

“We don't have any information,” wrote Marfa Mata on Twitter. “The kidnapers haven’t call yet. Please we must keep calm.” 

Mata helped Ramos adapt to the United States after he arrived here to play in the minor leagues for the Minnesota Twins. 

Meanwhile, about a dozen players who played for the Nationals’ organization in 2011, mostly minor leaguers, remain in Venezuela for the winter league. I asked a team official if there were plans to bring them home. The team has not commented. The president of the league has said games will go on. 

UPDATE, 10:15 a.m.: Venezuelan Minister of Interior Justice Tareck El Aissami said police found the vehicle used to kidnap Wilson Ramos in Bejuma, a town an hour away from Valencia, where four gunmen abducted Ramos on Wednesday night, according to a report by Venezuelan TV station Globovision.

The kidnappers have yet to contact Ramos’s family or authorities.

ORIGINAL POST: There are still few details emerging this morning about the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos outside his home in Venezuela, roughly 13 hours after the kidnapping took place.

There has been no indication that the kidnappers have contacted Ramos’s family. A spokeswoman for the Aragua Tigres, Ramos’s winter league team in Venezuela, wrote on Twitter this morning that they have yet to receive an update on the situation.

“We are still waiting for any news about Wilson Ramos,” Katherine Vilera said. “All the authorities are working in the case. We need to be [patient] and pray.”

Even with the kidnapping Wednesday night, Venezuelan winter league president Jose Grasso told a Venezuelan television station the league will continue to play its season. Several Nationals players, including Venezuelan natives Jesus Flores, Henry Rodriguez and Sandy Leon, are playing in the league.

“Suspending any ballgames will not help Wilson Ramos at all,” Grasso said. “Turning the lights off is not a solution. We will keep Wilson present in our thoughts and prayers, but suspending activity won’t help.”

The Nationals have yet to offer a public comment or acknowledgment.

By  |  08:31 AM ET, 11/10/2011

 
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