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Tigers reliever Villarreal's family threatened during burglary

The SportsXchange

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Brayan Villarreal's home in Venezuela was burglarized and the three armed robbers threatened to kidnap his relatives, his agent told ESPNDeportes.com Sunday.

The incident occurred Friday in San Diego, Valencia, which is 112 miles from Caracus. Villarreal allowed his agent to tell reporters about the burglary to warn other players about the dangers their families potentially face in Venezuela.

The police were tipped off by a neighbor, who reported suspicious activity. The burglars threatened to kill Villarreal's parents and younger brother if they answered the door when police arrived.

"The guys put a gun in the mouth of Brayan's father and his little 14-year-old brother, threatening that they would return and kidnap everybody if they said anything to the police," said Villarreal's agent Hector Gomez. "When the authorities reached the house to investigate if something was going on, they threatened everyone to not open the door."

Gomez said that Major League Baseball's investigation unit and the Venezuelan government have been informed of the incident.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Villarreal's family was not harmed and the pitcher will remain with the team. Manager Jim Leyland said Villarreal will stay on his regular pitching schedule for now.

Kidnappings in the Venezuelan state are reportedly on the rise. Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped and later rescued in November of 2011. A year before that, San Diego Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista's father was killed during a robbery.

"It was a really dangerous situation," Gomez said. "Thank God that no one is hurt, but the family had to leave the house and go somewhere else for fear of being attacked again. Brayan is well and he's focused on the upcoming season, but it's really not that easy to play baseball in peace while your family is going through something like that at home."

Villarreal, 25, had a 2.63 ERA in 54 2/3 innings last year for Detroit. He is a candidate to be the team's closer.
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