The mother of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz has been horrifically kidnapped in Venezuela, as confirmed by The Pirates’ official social media.
On Thursday, the Pirates issued a statement confirming Venezuelan media reports that Ana Soto, Diaz’s mother, was in credible danger.
Diaz, 27, reportedly is in the United States as Pirates’ pitchers and catchers prepare to report to spring training next week. He hit .223 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 64 games last season.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time kidnappers have targeted Venezuelan athletes or their relatives. In 2009, then-Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba waited in anguish as his 11-year-old son was rescued from kidnappers. Former Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in 2011 but later was found alive and unharmed after an air rescue.
The incident was first reported by a Venezuelan local news organization, which said Diaz’s mother went missing Thursday afternoon. MLB players who hail from Venezuela, and make up the third-most represented nationality in the league, have grappled with how to handle the danger facing their family members back home, as kidnappings of the relatives of athletes and celebrities have increased amid the political turmoil there.
Diaz in pictures.