The clock continued to tick Friday as the investigation into the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos advanced, according to authorities. But Venezuelan police were forced to issue a second assurance that Ramos was alive as there remained no contact between the kidnappers and Ramos' family, who spent yet another day doing their best to "keep the faith."
Venezuelan police announced midday Friday that they had found a second SUV believed to have been used in the kidnapping of the 24-year-old who was taken by armed gunmen from his family's home near Valencia around 7:30 p.m. local time Wednesday.
But despite the progress that led investigators to assure Ramos's family "not to worry, we're going to finish this as soon as possible," on Friday morning, according to family friend Marfa Mata, they remained in the dark on Ramos' whereabouts and no demands for ransom have been issued.
"We're like the first day," Mata, a Venezuelan journalist, told The Washington Times on Friday morning. "No calls, no messages, nothing from the kidnappers."
"[The police] told us a few hours ago that the investigations are very advanced and not to worry," she said. "The family, they're trying to have faith, but it's not easy."
As neighbors, friends and family continued to pour into the Ramos' home in Santa Ines, Mata's voice was tired and stressed.
"It's really hard," she said. "We're waiting for some good news."
They are not alone in that wait.
In the meantime, the fears among many other Venezuelan's who play in the major leagues continued to grow.
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra told reporters he has decided not to play in Venezuela due to concerns for his safety.
And in Miami, where the Marlins were unveiling their new team name and uniforms, pitcher Anibal Sanchez told the Palm Beach Post that he has already cancelled his December plane tickets home. Infielder Omar Infante, who is scheduled to return to Venezuela on Sunday, also admitted to the Palm Beach Post that he is nervous.
"I'll have to be careful for my family," Infante said.
Sanchez is a newlywed who was planning to bring his wife to his hometown of Maracay, but he said those plans are off and he doesn't know now when he will return home.
"I love my country," Sanchez said. "I really love my country. But with that situation, it's hard for players who live in Venezuela. ... It's beautiful, but not like that. I want to be free. I want to be comfortable."
The pledges of support for Ramos continued to pour in from fans and fellow major leaguers.
"I'm really worried," Melvin Mora, a Venezuelan who last played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and has experienced crimes of this nature, told the Baltimore Sun. Mora's father was killed in front of him in Venezuela years ago.
"Not only for Ramos but I worry for his family. They went and talked to the police and I'm afraid [the perpetrators] will come back and do something to them after because they went to the police."
As Mora presented yet another cause for concern in this situation, Nationals fans tried to offer what little support they could for the soft-spoken catcher and his family. While they waited for some good news from afar, fans organized a candlelight vigil outside Nationals Park at 6 p.m. on Friday night.
But as far as official information goes — other than from Ramos' family and the statements released by Venezuelan police — there wasn't much available. The Nationals and Major League Baseball have been instructed not to comment further than their initial statement from Thursday afternoon. Players have been told the same and even those playing currently in Venezuela are on strict orders not to discuss the matter.
Venezuelan Nationals catcher Jesus Flores, who usually tweets frequently and is traditionally active on facebook, has been silent. He sent out a tweet Friday afternoon for the first time since noon on Wednesday — roughly seven hours his Nationals teammate was taken captive. His tweet Friday, however, was about a sore leg and did not pertain to the ongoing search for Ramos.
"It's a sad situation," Mora told the Sun. "There are so many families, wives and kids that support the players. They go over there to give a good attraction to the fans, to play for the fans and we give you a good show. We don't expect that it's going to be scary but all the players don't want to play in Venezuela now because of security and that is sad."
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