PITTSBURGH — As has been tradition since 2006, MLB players wore pink hats, socks, spikes, and undershirts, wear a pink ribbon on their chest and use pink bats, shin pads and other gear on Sunday to pay tribute to mother’s day and also to help raise money for breast cancer awareness.

This Sunday, the Pirates additionally invited players’ mothers to brunch before the game and some of them helped throw out the first pitch.

For most, it’s a nice tradition. For Pirates catcher Elias Diaz, the day has a very special meaning this season.

Diaz’s mother, Ana Soto, was kidnapped in Venezuela in February, just as Diaz was preparing to leave for Spring Training. So just to be able to give her a video call from the clubhouse Sunday morning and wish her a happy mother’s day was pretty impactful for Diaz.

“A day like this is very special to me. Being able to put on all this pink that represents our mothers is very special to me, especially because of what I lived through” Diaz said through team interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “Even if we wouldn’t have lived what we lived through, my mom is very dear to me. She is the rock and foundation and our household. But knowing what we lived through, knowing that God protected her well, she’s healthy, she’s at peace and she’s safe right now, that means the most to me.”

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Soto was rescued three days after she was kidnapped. Six people, including one of Diaz’s family friends and several police officers, were later charged with the crime. Diaz would like to get Soto out of the country, but for now, she remains in Venezuela, watching Pirates games when they’re televised and staying in touch with Diaz as much as she can.

“This reminds me to honor and cherish every single moment that I have with my mother,” Diaz said of the special mother’s day ensemble. “To be able to embrace her, to caress her, to love on her, to be able to call her and talk to her, just a ‘mom, how are you? I love you,’ those are huge moments for me. So to throw on anything that’s pink on this day to represent my mom, that’s a big deal.”

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