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In Relief, Urbina Talks About Ordeal

Thursday, February 24, 2005; Page D08

Ugueth Urbina planned to report to spring training, even if his kidnapped mother still was being held. He didn't want to show her captors that he was weak.

Now that Maura Villarreal is safe following a rescue operation last Friday, Urbina said an indescribable weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

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"I feel like I'm 18 years old," said the Detroit Tigers reliever, speaking publicly about the ordeal for the first time.

Villarreal, 54, was held for five months 18 days in a camp that police called a drug-traffickers' hideout in Venezuela's southern mountains.

Urbina said his mom lost about 50 pounds during her captivity. He hasn't spoken with her about her time as a captive.

"We're trying to not talk about it so she can forget about it as soon as she can," he said.

Villarreal will receive counseling for about a month, Urbina said, then he's sending her to Europe for a while before bringing her to the United States.

Eventually, he said, she plans to return to Venezuela because it's her home.

"I'm trying to send her everywhere to keep her mind busy, but she'll want to go back," he said. "That's the way she is."

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