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  • Major league baseball player Elias Diaz was home visiting his family but had gone out with his brother, former MBL player Eminson Soto, to buy fish.

    Major league baseball player Elias Diaz was home visiting his family but had gone out with his brother, former MBL player Eminson Soto, to buy fish. | Photo: Major League Baseball

Published 10 February 2018
Opinion

The Major League Baseball organization has cautioned players visiting their native countries, warning their salaries make them the perfect target for extortion.

Famed Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Elias Diaz is asking that kidnappers release his mother, who was forcibly taken from her home in Maracaibo, in the family's native Venezuela, Thursday morning.

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"It is very painful when they attempt against your family... I only ask that they do not harm her and return her to me alive," the player said Friday, according to a report in the newspaper Panorama.

Ana Soto, 72, was attacked by four heavily armed men at about 8 a.m. just outside the nation's capital, Caracas. Police say the assailants forced Soto into a car at gunpoint before bundling her up into sheets and speeding off.

Authorities are unsure whether the kidnappers were aware of her son's identity at the time of her capture. The major league baseball player was home visiting his family at the time and had gone out with his brother, former MBL player Eminson Soto, to buy fish.

"She usually sits in the front of the house, talks with neighbors and sometimes even plays ludo (parchi). Every day she goes out," Diaz said.

His brother told media: "We have never gone through a situation like this; I ask for understanding at this moment of pain for the family and I thank the whole baseball guild for their solidarity."

The brothers have received enormous support from both the baseball league and Diaz' teammates, and the player says he has faith the security forces will find his mother.

Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly said in a statement. "We are all shocked and deeply concerned for Elias' mother, as well as for Elias and his entire family.

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"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."

The Major League Baseball (MBL) organization has cautioned players visiting their native countries, warning that their salaries make them the perfect target for extortion.

This most recent incident is not the first time professional baseball players have fallen prey to criminals. Former Washington National's Wilson Ramos and the son of ex-Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba were kidnapped in 2011 and 2009. Both were later returned home safe.

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