WASHINGTON -- As the investigation into the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos continued in Venezuela, team and state officials were mum on what could be done to get Ramos back safely.
The Nationals and Major League Baseball said they are working with the proper authorities and the U.S. State Department is monitoring the case but hasn't been contacted by MLB or authorities in Venezuela. The State Department said it would help if asked by MLB or Venezuelan authorities.
"We are certainly aware of the case, you know, monitoring it closely," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a press briefing Thursday. "We've not had any contact with the family or with Major League Baseball as of yet. I checked before coming down here. You know, he's not a U.S. citizen. He is a -- I believe -- a green card holder.
"It's obviously of great concern to us," Toner continued. "You know, we did cite in our country-specific information the very real dangers of kidnapping and violent crime in Venezuela. And we condemn these kinds of violent acts. And you know, we stand by to help in whatever way possible the family, if they contact us."
MLB said that the league's Department of Investigations was working with authorities.
The Venezuelan Embassy said they knew of the case, but had no comment. The embassy was scheduled to put out a press release on Thursday night.
Calls by SI.com to several Nationals and MLB officials, including Washington general manager Mike Rizzo, wanting to know how they were going to get involved or if they were willing to help pay a ransom to bring Ramos back safely, were not returned.
The Nationals' principal owner, Ted Lerner, is one of the richest owners in sports. According to Forbes, Lerner, who has been a real estate developer in Washington, D.C. since 1952, is one of 33 billionaires to own a franchise in one of the four major leagues and his worth is estimated at $3.3 billion.
Spokesman John Dever cut off all questions before they were asked and referred reporters to a joint statement released by the team and MLB, which read: "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.''
The only National to make a comment their closer Drew Storen, who tweeted, "Extremely upsetting news about Ramos. Thoughts and prayers are with him. Scary situation.''
Ramos, 24, who hit .267 with 15 home runs and will likely be their regular catcher next season, made $415,000 last season.
Ramos is the first majoer leaguer known to have been kidnapped in Venezuela, but several other players have seen family members abducted, including the mothers of former pitchers Victor Zambrano and Ugueth Urbina and the son and brother-in-law of current catcher Yorvit Torrealba. According to a State Department report from last year, kidnapping is seen as "a growing industry'' in Venezuela and there were 9.2 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants in the country.