BRADENTON, Fla. – About a week ago, Elias Diaz was reaching the end of an unthinkable situation. His mother had been kidnapped, and was held four days by the kidnappers, before finally being recovered last Sunday. The Pirates gave Diaz some extra time off to deal with his family, rather than having to report to camp last week. He arrived yesterday, and discussed the situation with the media, saying that his mother was doing well.

“This was a very tough situation,” Diaz said through translator Mike Gonzalez. “Very hard to deal with. My mom was just hanging outside with a friend, just having a conversation, and those men arrived and kidnapped her. The first thing we did was contact the police. … Thank God that four days later we were able to find her and get her back home.”

Diaz said that the kidnappers wanted money, but that the police were able to do their job and the family didn’t have to pay anything. There were police involved in the kidnapping, along with a very close family friend.

“In the beginning, I have no words to be able to describe the reaction and the response when I heard the news,” Diaz said. “It was heartbreaking. No one really prepares them self for something like that. No one takes the time to think that through. When it hit me, it hit me like a ton of bricks, and it was a very tough situation to deal with. When I did find out the news that we found my mom, I can tell you that the joy I felt was overwhelming. I’ve never felt that caliber of joy that I felt the moment I received the news that my mom was coming back home.”

Last summer, Alan Saunders did a feature on the tough economic times in Venezuela, noting that players like Diaz are a target for this sort of thing, due to their high profile. Diaz said that his goal is to still get his family out of Venezuela, which is a tough process. The people that are targeted the most are the close family members, and those are the people he wants to bring to the US. Knowing that a family friend was involved in the kidnapping has further secured the idea that Diaz needs to detach from his home country.

“It kind of removes the trust of your roots,” Diaz said. “It kind of makes you want to detach from your roots and maybe even question do I want to go back, do I want to remain there? You kind of lose the trust, and it makes you more aware of your surroundings.”

Diaz said that throughout the process he had plenty of support from the Pirates and his teammates, noting that several of the teammates from Venezuela like Francisco Cervelli and Jose Osuna kept in constant contact with him.

“It was a great honor and blessing to be able to feel the support from my teammates,” Diaz said. “Not just my teammates, but my coaches, the staff, and especially the front office. Everyone did so great in just making sure I was well, my family was well, and just checking up on me. I felt very special. I felt very well supported and very backed up. It was very special to know my team had my back and was there supporting me, especially my Venezuelan teammates like Cervelli and Osuna. They were there for me.”

Diaz will now go about things as normal in Spring Training, saying that he feels like a new person after this. He will be the backup catcher to Francisco Cervelli this year, and will be the starter if the injury-prone Cervelli goes down. Diaz trained hard during the offseason, so the slightly late start won’t impact him. He worked on his mental game, along with practicing the techniques that he picked up from his time in the majors last year. This will be his best shot at showing he can stick at the majors, and showing how good of an MLB catcher he can be.

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75 COMMENTS

  1. When did PP become a Yahoo political blog….I’ve honestly lost IQ points reading this nonsense. Wish I could unread what I just read.

  2. Well Good Morning All.

    Educate yourself:
    I strongly recommend “The Killing Zone: The United States Wages Cold War in Latin America” by Stephen G. Rabe, Ashbel Smith Chair of History, University of Texas at Dallas.

    If we can agree on that, then we can talk about Latino players without geopolitics.

    You’re Welcome.
    Now can I please purchase a barrel of Jose Osuna love-oil? I hear the price is down!

    -Wabbit

      • Actually, it’s on the couch beside me.

        After the last such row, I looked it up. I am a great admirer of history books. I’m halfway through it and I can tell you, most of us haven’t a clue about the thing we’re fussing so mischievously about here.

        Long story short the treatment of the Latin American sphere by the United States is just about as shameful as the treatment of native American cultures.

        Just sayin, it’s complicated and it ain’t pretty.
        And, if you wanted to write an interesting book on the geopolitc of baseball, the American hegemony over this hemisphere would probably have A LOT to do with how we cultivate Latin players. Somebody somewhere should be making their doctoral thesis on that very interesting topic.

        My guess, however, is it will not be Messers Williams, Dreker, et al.

        -BB

        • I’m looking in the direction of Ross Ohlendorf right about now. Seems right up his Princeton-educated alley.

          • Any time, Kev. I’m with ya bro. I know it’s an important topic to you.

            As I see it, my doctoral thesis would go something like – “Latin American Baseball is a Plantation for MLB.” The way the players are owned and trafficked, they might as well be oil, sugar cane, or United Fruit Company commodities. We invest and bet on their futures. Many times the players don’t even own themselves. There would appear to be real parallels.

            -BB

      • “Control of the International banking system…”

        You have to be willfully ignorant not to understand what this dude is clearly trying to say.

        • NMR,

          Point received, but it isn’t the same thing. You’d have to go back to some history wherein Chavez booted out the IMF and WTO in order to nationalize his oil supply. So Kevin’s argument that they “can’t” get a loan from them is sketchy, I think.

          The IMF and the WTO and the world’s oil oligarchy are the primary ways the West plays loan-shark to poor countries. Once you buy in with those guys, you’re going straight to Greek-style austerity and bankruptcy while these bozos basically OWN your country.

          1953 Iran. Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh (yes, Iran had a parliamentary democracy before we interfered) tried the same thing, was branded a communist for it because BP was jacked at losing the resources, and was overthrown by our CIA interventionists led by Teddy Rosevelt’s grandson. And it still haunts us to this very day.

          To Kevin’s point, I would say the banking system is not zionist, per se, but it certainly supports a prevailing western opinion in favor of a Jewish state in Israel. I would say that’s basically true in a round-about way, not anti-semitic.

          Yer dealin’ with a retired journalist/state trooper here, fellas. Just the facts, Ma’am.

          -BB

          • Replying to self, oh God, I’ve gone over to the dark side…

            And by nationalizing the oil supply in Venezuela, the IMF, World Bank and the oil markets have consistently gone to economic war against Venezuela because they were boxed out of those resources. Long view, the people who want those resources WILL get them. One way or the other.

            -BB

          • Thank you once again, Wabbit. I couldn’t have possibly
            said it better. I don’t like debating these types of things in
            a forum such as this but, frankly, it drives me a little
            crazy when I see supposedly educated Americans being
            so easily lied to and propagandized by the mass media.
            I just wish they would take the time to read a bit more from
            the non-traditional media.

        • Oh yeah? OK, tell me something, smart guy. Since the
          inception of the Federal Reserve, back around 1915, how
          many gentiles have served on its board? Let me help you
          out… ZERO!

          Now before you come back with your little “DUH, Anti-
          Themite, Anti-Themite!!!”, let me tell you something else:
          I am an atheist. I couldn’t possibly care less about
          anybody’s religion.

          And one last thing: Zionism is NOT a religion.

      • The words he chose are irrelevant. It was a standard-fare, go-to anti-semite talking point. It’s the core point of anti-semitism.

        • Words are never irrelevant. I do definitely get what you and NMR are saying about Kevin.

          I think Kevin is right that the international banking system has been waging economic warfare against Venezuela for a long time.

          -BB

          • If I chose words to mask that I was referring to a racial or ethnic group when calling them evil and blaming them for the world’s problems, then my words are irrelevant, because I still blamed a racial or ethnic group for the world’s problems, is what I’m getting at.

  3. Very glad for Elias and his family, and I hope he can get his family out of there soon. Is there anything the team can do to help him out, or is he kind of on his own there?

      • Is that AP style? I didn’t realize that. I assumed a distinction was made as in all text between a strictly colloquial “thank god,” in which the “god” referred to is not the Judeo-Christian God specifically, and the case–which I gather is the case here–of a person of Jedeo-Christian faith invoking their proper-named God.

        Either way, capitalizing is correct, I just didn’t know it was an AP Style thing.

  4. I’m truly happy for Diaz’s family that his Mother was returned unharmed. Saddens me to hear a woman of 72 years of age has to choose between safe living conditions and living in a country she has lived her entire life in.

    I know I wouldn’t want to have to make this choice.

  5. Can we please lose the political back and forth? This is a website devoted to Pirate baseball. If you want to argue politics, there are websites for that. Go there. As for Elias and his family, so glad his mom is safe and well and praying that he can find a way to get everyone to the USA asap. Now, Elias, go be the catcher we all hope you can be.

    • @rick one thing I love about this site is the people who belong to the readership and choose to comment.
      Baseball has always been a vehicle to both discuss and challenge social issues.
      If someone here has been affected around the game and life I feel this should be a group to hear their comments. If you don’t agree then don’t read it.

      • Sports in general have been a vehicle of important political reform. That’s kind of the point, for example, of the Olympics. And players are rightly politically involved, and fans can engage them on that involvement. It’s healthy and it’s good, and I agree, discussion on a topic explicitly intertwined with politics is completely fair game.

        You know, provided it’s done respectfully and tastefully.

          • I don’t want to believe you, but the more Facebook posts I read which start with, “Constantly attempting to wake people up to the truth is exhausting…” the more inclined I am to concede you’re correct.

            • The thing that made me realize it is when I stopped being able to have a political discussion with even close friends with different views that me. The unfollow button on Facebook is a beautiful thing.

              • I have unfollowed more than a few friends and blocked commenters that I have no desire to see comments from. Great tool!

                • So many people just reply with anger or name calling. Then it immediately ceases to be a discussion anymore. It’s a ridiculous fight from a misguided coward behind a keyboard more often then not.

                  • Those are exactly who I block. When the name calling starts, I am done with them. As far as real life friends, I unfollow for lot’s of reasons, some as simple as posting way too often and not being that interested in the overabundance.

                • TonyV.

                  I know what you mean. I’ve blocked or unfriended people who just won’t let go of one issue or another.

                  Problem is, people are getting their information from facebook. That’s like getting your nutrition at the candy store.

                  Answer: READ an old fashioned NEWSPAPER. Associated Press don’t lie. Tell ya what? Some of the best investigative reporting in the world is being done by our old friend McClatchy. Those guys are authoritative journalists. Read a McClatchy newspaper for a month and turn off your TV. Then come back and see how alien the landscape looks to you.

                  It’s crazy.

                  -BB

              • I’ve only unfollowed two people on Facebook, and both were not for disagreements on matters of opinion, but because of a lack of basic human decency. I engage folks I disagree with often, usually focusing not on the differences of opinion, but on misleading “factoids” they use to support them.

                I wish sharing memes actually required you to read them carefully and think critically about how the information was presented.

                An example: Someone whose political opinions actually largely align with my own posted some conspiracy theory meme about the government “owning” a patent for a cancer cure. The patent exists, but it’s owned by a private citizen (which is really easy to verify), but patents do not guarantee efficacy, which I think a lot of folks overlook. In this drug’s case, it does kill cancer cells. Because it indiscriminately kills *all* cells. Folks complain about cancer treatment being poison, because it is actual poison. That’s the point of it. But it’s poison which can be targeted to some effect. This drug can’t be targeted, and would just kill anyone who took it. So, I told him off, because you can’t just spread that kind of thing without thinking about it.

                That guy was cool about it, thanked me for correcting him, and deleted it. More often, there are some vague statements about “freedom” or some misdirection, or some typo pointed to to discredit my point, and that’s just so unproductive.

              • Freddy,

                I think Facebook is a truly unique and important platform in our society right now. I believe Zuckerberg, with all Facebook’s money, has a duty to vet the content people post since the platform is being used for propaganda.

                I think they need to develop an algorhythm that flags highly controversial posts and those posts should go to the editors and rather than removing or changing the post, the frame of the post should change color.

                Red frame on a post: Fake news.
                Yellow frame on a post: Questionable news.
                Black frame on a post: True.

                Facebook owes us this much.
                -BB

  6. Anyone choosing to lead with an economic hot take *without* mentioning the murderous authoritarian dictator in charge is pretty clearly using this awful situation to thinly veil their political take on a regional baseball message board, which is, well, expected to be honest.

    • This told me all I need to know about that person :” Control of the International banking system by the Zionists.” They were never going to criticize Maduro, thats for certain !

      • Today on baseball internets I’ve read an unrepentant anti-semite and a guy who boasted about what would happen to David Freese in Russia had he spoken out, so you can say my Monday morning went well.

  7. Venezuela is socialism’s greatest disaster. From richest country in the world to people literally eating dirt to survive. Happy for Diaz that his mother is safe.

    • You are so full of crap, you must have the brownest eyes in the world.
      These kidnappings were happening long before Hugo Chavez. Do
      you want to know why the good Venezuelan people are having such
      a problem right now? Because: 1. Control of the International banking
      system by the Zionists. Venezuela can’t get a loan from either the
      IMF or WTO to save their asses., 2. The glut of oil on the world
      market caused by the triumvirate of the US, Israel, and Saudi
      Arabia. Oil is the source of most of Venezuela’s income so with the
      prices so low it puts a real hurting on them (and Iran). 3. The general
      meddling and intervention by the US in other countries internal affairs.

      Oh and, “richest country in the world”?, and “literally eating dirt to
      survive”?. Come on… no need for gross hyperbole.

      I could write a book about these things but I’ll end it with this: READ,
      son. Get online and educate yourself. And whether it sounds like it
      or not, I say this with all due respect.

      Viva Chavez!

      • I think you be a crazy person. Write your book and send me a copy to educate me. What a shame that oil prices are low and they are not raking in the money you want them to have. Let them pump more oil and sell it to make up for the shortfall. Hell they have the largest reserves in the world and if they do that where does the money go? Is it going to provide food, medical and other essentials to the people of the country or being diverted for other uses? Lets keep the political bullshit off the site.

        • “Lets keep the political bullshit off the site.” he says as
          soon as he makes HIS statement. Not too intelligent,
          are you? You don’t seem to get it. The REASON that
          oil prices are low is because Saudi Arabia, the US, et.,al.,
          have already flooded the market. Oh and the
          Venezuelan peoples lives were vastly improved by
          Hugo Chavez. Better food, more jobs, more doctors and
          universal education.

          But hey… you want to believe the propaganda and lies
          that you are fed every single day, be my guest, lemming.

          There are none so blind as those who will not see.

      • Nutting/Huntington/Hurdle must be MLB’s Team Chavez then. Can’t win because of collusion of bigger, more powerful capitalists. Unable to squeeze more money out of the MLB World Bank, etc.etc.

        I know plenty of Sanders supporters. You, however, are the first pro-Chavez guy I’ve heard about in at least two decades.

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