Wilson Ramos will begin playing for the Tigres de Aragua next Tuesday night in Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional action. This afternoon, the 24-year-old catcher whose kidnapping ordeal made national headlines last week was in the nation's capital to meet with the Washington Nationals' medical staff and speak briefly to the D.C. press corps. The Nats' catcher made a statement, but didn't take any questions from reporters. As Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak reported on Twitter (@AComak) the message from Ramos was simple, "I just want to say thanks to the fans for your support and prayers. I'm happy to be here. See you in spring training."
Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo told ESPN 980's The Sports Fix's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan in an interview last week that they wanted Ramos to come to Washington to, "... take a full physical and see just where we're at with that. We're going to get him in here as soon as we can to do that. We'll sit him down and discuss [the situation] and have him talk to a few people that are fully-equipped to talk to people in these types of situations because it was a high-stress environment and we want to make sure he's physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to handle this and to deal with it."
According to reports from Nationals Park today, including Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Nationals’ Wilson Ramos back in Washington, thanks fans for support," the Nats' GM said, "The doctors found Ramos in 'terrific' shape." The event today brings an end to the story of Ramos' kidnapping. The former Minnesota Twins' prospect acquired by the Nationals along with reliever Joe Testa in a July 2010 trade for right-hander Matt Capps, was preparing for play in his home country's Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional when he was abducted from his home by armed gunmen who held him captive for over 50 hours in what the kidnappers told Ramos was an attempt to secure a ransom for the MLB player.
Ramos was freed by Venezuelan police forces a little over two days later following a gunfight with his abductors. On Tuesday night he'll begin playing for the Tigres de Aragua. Ramos was quoted after he was freed telling reporters he was eager to get back on the field. "As soon as I feel all right, I’m going to start playing," Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak quoted Ramos telling Viva Colorad.com reporter Rafael Rojas last week, "as a thank you to Venezuela for the support."
Playing for the Tigres de Aragua last winter Ramos was 58 for 180 (.322/.390/.567) with 17 doubles and nine home runs in 47 games. In his first full major league season with Washington in 2011, the right-handed hitting and throwing catcher had a .267/.334/.445 line with 22 doubles and 15 HR's in 113 games and 435 plate appearances.
"It's really a special day for us," Rizzo told reporters this afternoon, "The reuniting of Wilson Ramos with the people of Washington, D.C. As you know it was a traumatic experience last week with Wilson. We would again like to extend our appreciation so much to the Washington Nationals family, the fanbase of Washington, D.C. who have been terrific in support with prayers and good thoughts for Wilson, Major League Baseball security and the government of Venezeula who were huge, important people in getting Wilson Ramos back here safe and sound."