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Kidnapping Fears Continue for Major League Players from Latin America

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Nationals' baseball catcher, Wilson Ramos, looks on during a press conference in Valencia, Venezuela on November 12, 2011. Ramos, whose kidnapping in his native Venezuela anguished sports fans around the world. (credit: LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Nationals’ baseball catcher, Wilson Ramos, looks on during a press conference in Valencia, Venezuela on November 12, 2011. Ramos, whose kidnapping in his native Venezuela anguished sports fans around the world. (credit: LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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DETROIT (CBSDC/AP) — When thinking of the risks associated with playing Major League Baseball, kidnapping doesn’t quickly come to mind. But perhaps it should — especially if you’re a hardball prodigy hailing from Latin America.

Fifteen months after the abduction of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, the Detroit Tigers say reliever Brayan Villarreal is not expected to leave spring training after his family escaped unharmed from a kidnapping attempt in Venezuela on Friday night.

Villarreal has remained with the team. Manager Jim Leyland did not want to comment further about the matter, saying Sunday: “The less said, the better.”

Villarreal went 3-5 with a 2.63 ERA last year in 50 appearances. The 25-year-old right-hander struck out 66 hitters in 54 2-3 innings.

Security back home has been a concern in recent years for Venezuelan players and their families because of a rising wave of kidnappings.

Ramos was abducted outside his family’s home shortly after the end of the 2011 season and rescued by police commandos two days later.

In June 2009, Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba’s 11-year-old son and brother-in-law were kidnapped and released a day later.

The mother of former pitcher Ugueth Urbina, a two-time All-Star, spent more than five months in captivity until she was rescued in early 2005.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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