Correction to This Article
This article about Washington Nationals catcher Wil Nieves and his wife, Yormarie, who are expecting their first child, misspelled Yormarie Nieves's first name.

For Nationals' Wil Nieves and wife, family begins in Barcelona

Nationals catcher Wil Nieves and wife, Yormari, were about to give up on trying to conceive, when a special thing happened on vacation.
Nationals catcher Wil Nieves and wife, Yormari, were about to give up on trying to conceive, when a special thing happened on vacation. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
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By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It must have been Barcelona.

Because everything was just so perfect at that particular port-of-call last November: The glorious weather. The romance of that beautiful city. And -- how do we put this delicately? -- the timing, as Wil Nieves, catcher for the Washington Nationals, and his wife, Yormari, would find out later.

Not that they were counting the days, trying to line it up just right. They'd been trying that for years, and that was one of the rules of this vacation -- no counting. Just enjoy the sights, and the company of their best friends, and the wonderful wine. And if it happens, it happens.

Ah, yes. It must have been the wine.

The Peñas -- Carlos, first baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Pamela -- picked the wines each night of the 11-day cruise. That was one of Carlos's passions. And on that particular night, it was a Spanish red, of course. A fine Ribera del Duero, in fact -- though no one can recall the precise label.

Whatever it was, it set just the right mood, and as the two young couples bid goodnight at evening's end to their respective rooms, with the wine's warm glow coursing through them, everyone had the same feeling: that there was something special going on -- romantic, yes, but more than that. Something almost spiritual.

Ah, yes. It must have been the Virgin Mary.

Pamela's prayer

A day earlier, when the cruise ship stopped near the ancient city of Ephesus, in what is now Turkey, and the Nieveses and the Peñas made a pilgrimage to the House of the Virgin Mary -- said to be the final home of the mother of Jesus -- Pamela lingered while the others stepped outside.

Alone, she lit a candle and prayed for Yormari to become pregnant, and for God to bless Wil and Yormari's child. She prayed so hard, her cheeks were streaked with tears when she finally emerged.

And pretty soon, the Mediterranean cruise was over. The ship docked for the last time, and everyone packed up and headed for the airport. For the couple, that meant back home to Puerto Rico and the reality that, unless good news came to them quickly, it would soon be time to try something new in their years-long quest to have a baby.

"The doctors all said we were fine -- she was fine and I was fine," Wil Nieves says. "They said it was probably just the stress of trying. So we said, 'Let's leave it in God's hands.' We'll go on this trip, and if it doesn't happen we'll try some other things -- fertility treatments, in vitro -- and if that didn't work, we would look into maybe trying to adopt."

In Orlando, where the Peñas live, Pamela was overcome by a premonition a few weeks after the trip.

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