Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:08 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 7:20 pm

Yorvit Torrealba receives lengthy Venezuelan ban

By Matt Snyder

Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been suspended from Venezuelan League play for 66 games (ESPN Dallas), which is the rest of this season and all of next season. Torreabla struck an umpire in the mask recently. League President Jose Grasso Vecchio called Torrealba's behavior unacceptable and a violation of league rules, in announcing the suspension.

Here's the video evidence:

The suspension does not, however, carry over into Major League Baseball. The Rangers are reportedly still mulling over their options with the catcher.

Torrealba was born in Caracas, Venezuela and plays for the Caracas Lions when playing in his native country. He has issued the following statement through the Rangers:

"I wanted to express my sincere apologies to all parties for my actions during the Venezuelan Winter League game on Friday. I have extended an apology to the Rangers organization as well. I am embarrassed for my conduct, and personally relayed that feeling to the umpire after that night’s game. On the field, I strive to be an example for children, especially those in my native Venezuela, and I regret my actions. I understand the reactions to the incident and will make every effort to set a positive example in the future."

Torrealba, 33, hit .273/.306/.399 in 419 plate appearances for the Rangers last season, serving as a backup option for when Mike Napoli either needed rest, was used at first base or served as a designated hitter.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 7:06 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:48 am

Rangers' Torrealba hits umpire in Venezuela

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba may be facing a long suspension -- or more -- in his native Venezuela after striking an umpire during a game for Leones del Caracas on Friday.

Here's the video, with Torrealba hitting Dario Rivero Jr., around the 1:00 mark.

Torrealba was ejected after striking out swinging in the eighth inning. Torrealba is hitting .246/.290/.333 in 17 games for Leones.

"[We're] aware, but we haven't got much info yet," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We will look into it."

When asked by the paper if there could be further disciplinary action against Torrealba for his actions in a non-MLB game, Daniels said it "depends on the circumstances."

H/T: Hardball Talk

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: November 19, 2011 3:25 pm

Carlos Zambrano OK after line drive to the face

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano told friends he was fine after leaving Friday night's game for Caribes de Anzoategui in Venezuela after being hit in the face with a line drive, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Related stories

Zambrano left Friday's game against Navegantes del Magallanes in the sixth inning when he was nailed by a liner. He reportedly needed 10 stitches to close the wound.

"He's a bull," Caribes general manager Sam Moscatel told the Tribune. "He's OK. We spoke (Friday) night after he had the surgery, and he said he wants to make his next start on Friday."

ESPNChicago.com reports Zambrano suffered "soft tissue damage," and needed 18 stitches. The report says Zambrano will undergo more tests in the next couple of days. 

Zambrano met with new Cubs general manager Theo Epstein last week to discuss his status with the team. Zambrano left the team earlier this season after being ejected from a game in Atlanta and didn't pitch the rest of the season. Zambrano told Epstein at the meeting he wanted to remain a Cub.

The Cubs still owe Zambrano $18 million for 2012.

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Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:17 pm

Nationals doctors say Ramos in 'terrific' shape

Wilson RamosBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Wilson Ramos was back in the United States on Friday, but will return to Venezuela in time to play Tuesday night, he said in a brief statement to reporters after a visit to Nationals Park on Friday.

Ramos came to Washington DC to visit with team doctors and front office personnel following his kidnapping last week in his native Venezula.

"It was great, seeing him happy," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a news conference (via the Washington Post.) "He had a big smile on his face like he usually does. We sat down, relaxed, talked baseball. It'll be all baseball from here on out."

Rizzo said the doctors told him Ramos was in "terrific" shape. He also said the team wouldn't prevent their Venezuelan-born players from playing winter ball in the country. Ramos is scheduled to play for Tigres de Aragua.

"I had no second thoughts," Rizzo said. "He plays for his country, in his country. He's very prideful about his country, and he feels safe there. He plays for his country. He plays in front of his family. We can't ask him not to do that."

Ramos didn't take questions at the news conference, but did make a brief statement (via MASNSports.com): "I just want to say, 'Thanks, Nats fans, for your prayers and your support.' I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to be with my family, and see you in spring training."

And speaking as a baseball fan, it was great to see Ramos and we can't wait to see him safe and sound in spring training.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:21 pm

Players in Venezuela cautiously moving forward

Wilson Ramos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Despite the recent kidnapping of Wilson Ramos, the Giants are not asking star third baseman Pablo Sandoval to cancel his trip to his native Venezuela next month, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Sandoval is expected to go to Venezuela on Dec. 10 and play 10 games for Navegantes de Magallanes near his hometown of Puerto Cabello.

"We are aware of the situation (with Ramos)," Giants vice president Bobby Evans told Baggarly. "Everyone is cautious about the safety of their players."

Sandoval tweeted late Friday, celebrating Ramos' safe return home:
A rough translation is: "Thank God for the appearance of my colleague and compatriot Wilson Ramos -- now it's time to put a stop to this kidnapping situation."

Kidnapping has been an epidemic in Venezuela, even though Ramos said he believed his kidnappers to be Columbian.

Former big league pitcher Scot Drucker is playing for the same team in Venezuela as Ramos, the Tigres de Aragua. He's currently blogging about his winter league experience in Venezuela. Friday, before Ramos was found, Drucker blogged about the situation.

Many friends and family members asked me about the team and my safety. The team and front office staff goes over and beyond with team security. We have about 8-12 armed guards who travel with us on the planes and buses. We also have police escorts to and from the fields. I know the import players feel safe.

Drucker also tweeted about his experiences after the news broke that Ramos had been rescued:

Scot Drucker

I also spoke to Joe Speed, the agent for Nationals right-handed prospect Ryan Tatusko, who is also playing in Venezuela. Speed said Tatusko decided to stay in Venezuela, but feels safe because of the team's security. Tatusko is playing for the Bravos de Maragarita.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 11:51 am

Wilson Ramos 'safe and sound'

Wilson Ramos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is "safe and sound" after being kidnapped on Wednesday, Venezuelan justice minister Tareck El Aissami said on state television Friday night.

Information director Andres Izarra said Wilson was found in the mountain region where he was the result of a "rescue operation by air." Five people were reportedly detained.

Ramos briefly talked with media, with hsi remarks broadcast on Venezuelan television, the Associated Press reports.

"They didn't physically harm me, but psychologically I underwent very great harm," Ramos said.

Wilson also described what happened in the kidnapping near his home.

"I don't know who those people were. I know they're Colombians by their accent," Ramos said. "Three guys grabbed me there in front of my house, they took me to another SUV and from there they took me into the mountains," in central Carabobo state.

Wilson said the kidnappers didn't say much to him -- "They simply told me to cooperate, that they were going to ask for a ton of cash for me."

"They put me in a room with a bed. I was lying there," he said. "It was hard for me to think about, if I was going to get out alive first of all ... about how my family, my mother were."

The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore tweets that Ramos spoke to his relatives on the phone and his mother, Maria Campos, said he told her, "Mama, I'm fine. Mama I'm, good. The freed me. They rescued me. ... I love you."

Ramos' friend and public relations agent Marfa Mata first tweeted Friday night that Ramos had "appeared." Mata told Venezuelan journalist Rafael Rojas that the Internal Affairs Minister called the Ramos family and told them that they'd gotten Ramos (via Twitter).

Wilson's teammate with Tigres de Aragua, Scot Drucker, tweeted that it was announced during Friday's game that Ramos had been found and was greeted by cheers. The news was announced at all of the games in Venezula on Friday.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement released Saturday mornign that he'd spoken with Ramos.

"I am happy to announce that I have spoken directly with Wilson and he assures me he is unharmed but eager to be reunited with his family," Rizzo said. "He asked me to thank all who played a role in his rescue, and all those who kept him and his family in their thoughts and prayers. I join Wilson in thanking the many law enforcement officials in Venezuela and investigators with Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive ending to what has been a frightening ordeal. The only detail that concerns us tonight is that Wilson is safe. The entire Washington Nationals family is thankful that Wilson Ramos is coming home." 

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 10:35 pm

Zambrano pitches in Venezuelan winter league

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound Sunday for the first time since walking out on his team in Atlanta in August, pitching 2 2/3 innings in his home country of Venezuela, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Pitching for Los Caribes de Anzategui, the Cubs right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, allowing a home run to Chicago's Bryan LaHair. Zambrano also had a throwing error walked two and hit a batter, but did strike out three batters.

Chicago's Theo Epstein told the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan last week that he was OK with Zambrano pitching this winter because he needed the innings and "it could be good for his state of mind to get out there and perform."

Zambrano was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts for the Cubs in 2011, throwing 145 2/3 innings, but was placed on the team's disqualified list in August after he left his team during a game against the Braves. He pitched in just 129 2/3 innings in 2010 after being suspended for an outburst in the dugout.

Still, the Cubs are on the hook for $18 million for Zambrano in 2012 and have to decide exactly what to do with him. Zambrano is expected to make nine starts by Christmas in Venezuela and then resting until spring training begins.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com