WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in his native Venezuela on Wednesday night, and officials are investigating after finding the vehicle used in the abduction, according to multiple reports from Venezuela.
In a joint statement issued on Thursday afternoon with Major League Baseball, the Nationals said, "Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family, and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball's department of investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment."
Ramos, who was playing for Tigres de Aragua in Venezuela's Winter League, was taken from his home in Santa Ines by four armed gunmen on Wednesday evening, Kathe Vilera, the Tigres' spokeswoman, said through the team's Twitter account.
The vehicle was found abandoned in a nearby town, according to reports. The captors have not made contact with Ramos' family, Domingo Alvarez, vice president of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, said on Thursday morning.
Members of the sports world expressed support for Ramos on Twitter.
"Wilson Ramos kidnapped in Venezuela?! Don't know him well off the field, but he seems like a strong fella. Pray for the best," Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence said.
Said Twins outfielder Denard Span: "Just heard about the news of Wilson Ramos. I think we all need to pray he is safe and that he will get back to his family!"
"Wilson Ramos situation is very sad. ... No respect for human life. Greed, money-loving people are killing this world," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
"Extremely upsetting news about Ramo," teammate Drew Storen tweeted. "Thoughts and prayers [are] with him."
Ramos and pitcher Joe Testa were acquired from the Twins on July 29, 2010, for closer Matt Capps and cash. In 2011, he played his first full big league season and became the everyday catcher, hitting .267 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. His home run total is a Nationals record for a catcher.
The abduction appears to be the first involving a Major League Baseball player, according to The Associated Press, though relatives of other players have been targeted in the past.
A son and brother-in-law of Yorvit Torrealba, then with the Rockies, were released one day after being taken in 2009, and the mother of former pitcher Victor Zambrano was rescued after a three-day ordeal later that year. The mother of two-time All-Star pitcher Ugueth Urbina was rescued after five months of captivity in 2005.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.