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Venezuelan government joins investigation of Wilson Ramos' kidnapping

The Washington Nationals catcher is still missing after being abducted by armed men in his native country.

November 10, 2011|Staff and wire reports
  • Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted by armed men in his native Venezuela on Wednesday.
Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted by armed men in… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

Venezuela's government said Thursday that it has sent its top investigators to solve the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, a case that has shaken the nation's elite athletes and focused attention on the country's sharp rise in kidnappings for ransom.

Police found the kidnappers' vehicle abandoned in a nearby town Thursday morning, according to Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami, who called the discovery "a very important find."

He said antikidnapping units led by "the best investigators we have" were dispatched to the area in central Carabobo state, and he vowed to rescue Ramos and capture his abductors.

"We're taking on this investigation with everything we've got," El Aissami said.

The 24-year-old player, who had just finished his rookie season, was just outside the front door at his home in the town of Santa Ines on Wednesday night when an SUV approached, armed men got out "and they took him away," said Ramos' agent, Gustavo Marcano.

"The abductors haven't made contact with the family or with anyone," said Domingo Alvarez, vice president of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, in a telephone interview. "We're worried."

Major League Baseball and the Nationals issued a joint statement that the league's Department of Investigations was working with authorities.

"Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time," the statement said, adding there would be no further comment.

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Former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, who has expressed his intention to bid on the team, said he has joined former Dodgers pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo on a partnership to run the facility formerly known as Dodgertown.

After McCourt moved the Dodgers' spring home to Arizona in 2009, Minor League Baseball leased the Dodgertown complex and marketed it for camps, clinics, tournaments and conferences.

Park and Nomo could help attract international business to the complex, now known as Vero Beach Sports Village after McCourt declined to allow the Dodgertown name to remain. O'Malley will be the new chief executive.

— Bill Shaikin

Tory Hernandez, who as manager of baseball operations helped run a bare-bones Angels front office while the team searched for a general manager in October, was informed by new GM Jerry Dipoto on Thursday that he will not be offered a contract for 2012.

Hernandez, 33, was with the team for seven years, the first three as a player performance analyst and the last four as manager of baseball operations. Considered one of the team's up-and-coming young executives, Hernandez was mentioned as a possible GM and assistant GM candidate before Dipoto got the job in late October.

"I can't say it's entirely unexpected, but the timing is not good — it's Nov. 10, and most of the jobs in baseball are filled," Hernandez said. Dipoto "wants to bring in his own guys, which I understand. They didn't see a fit, a role for me, here. I know there are better challenges out there for me. I want to scout more, and they don't have a role that fits that."

— Mike DiGiovanna

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed veteran catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year deal with a club option for 2013. Financial terms were not immediately disclosed.

Barajas, 36, hit .230 with 16 home runs and 47 runs batted in last season with the Dodgers. He is one of the top power-hitting catchers in the game. His 50 homers over the last two years are third-most by a major league catcher over that span.

GOLF

Another strong round for Woods

Tiger Woods put together his best back-to-back rounds of the year Friday with a five-under-par 67 that gave him a one-shot lead among the early starters in the second round of the Australian Open at Sydney.

If it holds up, it would be his first time in the lead after any round since the third day of the Chevron World Challenge last year, and the first time against a full field since his last win two years ago in the Australian Masters.

Woods was at nine-under 135, one shot clear of Peter O'Malley (66).

Juli Inkster shot a bogey-free five-under 67 for a share of the first-round lead with Suzann Pettersen in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational at Guadalajara.

Inkster, 51, is trying to become the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history. Beth Daniel was 46 when she won the 2003 Canadian Women's Open.

Meena Lee was one shot back after a 68.

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Four-time major champion Phil Mickelson was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame and said his upcoming enshrinement won't slow down his quest to reach 50 career victories. Mickelson, who became eligible for the honor after turning 40 last year, received 72% of votes cast, the Hall of Fame said.

Mickelson has won 39 tournaments since turning professional in 1992, including three Masters titles and a PGA Championship. He is to be inducted May 7 in St. Augustine, Fla.

ETC.

Sparks win WNBA draft lottery

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