Sports

Ramos hunt intensifies

The Venezuelan government sent top investigators Thursday to hunt for Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, whose abduction has shaken Venezuela’s elite athletes and focused attention on the nation’s sharp rise in kidnappings for ransom.

The 24-year-old player, who had returned to Venezuela after his rookie season, was just outside the front door at his home Wednesday night on the outskirts of Valencia – about 75 miles west of Caracas – when an SUV approached, three armed men got out “and they took him away,” said Ramos’ agent, Gustavo Marcano.

It was the first known kidnapping of a major league baseball player in Venezuela, although the relatives of some ballplayers have previously been held captive for ransom.

Police found the kidnappers’ vehicle abandoned in the nearby town of Bejuma on Thursday morning, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said. He said anti-kidnapping units led by “the best investigators we have” were dispatched to the area in central Carabobo state.

He vowed to rescue Ramos and capture his abductors.

“We’re taking on this investigation with everything we’ve got,” El Aissami said.

Major League Baseball and the Nationals said the leagues’ Department of Investigations was working with authorities.

SHORT HOPS

Pat Burrell’s 14-year career is likely over because of a troublesome right foot that hasn’t healed and limited him to 92 games this season for the Giants. …The Royals donated $10,000 to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in its effort to raise $100,000 in support of a Buck O’Neil centennial celebration. … Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton is undergoing tests in Philadelphia to determine if he has a sports hernia and will need surgery. … The Pirates and veteran catcher Rod Barajas have agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with a $3.5 million club option for 2013.

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