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Abducted Nationals catcher rescued

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan police rescued Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos on Friday, two days after he was kidnapped.

"I'm the happiest man on earth," Abraham Ramos, the player's father, said in comments broadcast on Venezuelan state television. "My son is safe and sound."

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said Ramos was rescued by police but the circumstances weren't immediately clear. Information Minister Andres Izarra initially reported the rescue via Twitter, saying Ramos was "found alive by security forces in mountainous zone."

Izarra said it was "a rescue operation by air," which was authorized earlier in the day by President Hugo Chavez.

Ramos' mother exclaimed on TV: "Thanks to God! Thanks to my country, to my neighbors and to my family, who were supporting us."

Armed men seized Ramos, 24, at gunpoint Wednesday outside his home in Valencia. Authorities said they had found a stolen SUV used by the kidnappers in a nearby town.

The abduction was the first known kidnapping of a major-league player in a country that has dozens of players on big-league rosters, and it brought a renewed focus on worsening violent crime in Venezuela.

Report: Papelbon to join Phillies

PHILADELPHIA — Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies have agreed to a $50 million, four-year contract that's the largest ever for a reliever, according to multiple media reports. The deal is subject to Papelbon passing a physical.

Papelbon, who turns 31 on Nov. 23, had 219 saves over seven seasons with the Red Sox, including 31 this past season, when he made $12 million. The right-hander replaces Ryan Madson, who also is a free agent.

The previous high for relievers had been $47 million, with B.J. Ryan agreeing to a five-year contract with Toronto before the 2006 season and Joe Nathan getting a four-year deal from Minnesota in 2008.

Pujols visits Marlins: Albert Pujols' free agent tour is off to a surprising start: The three-time NL MVP had lunch with Marlins officials, checked out the team's new ballpark and received a contract offer, the Miami Herald reported. The notoriously thrifty franchise declined to disclose details of the proposal to the All-Star first baseman. His visit came only hours before the franchise officially changed its name to the Miami Marlins during an event at the ballpark.

Surgery for Hamilton: Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had successful surgery to repair a sports hernia. He's expected to fully recover in time for spring training.

Astros: The proposed sale of the team from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane is on the agenda for approval when the league's owners meet next week, and McLane, Crane and MLB have reached an understanding on how a possible shift of the franchise to the AL in 2013 would take place, the Associated Press reported.

Cubs: Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. became the fourth candidate to interview for the managerial vacancy. GM Jed Hoyer said the field may be complete.

Red Sox: Blue Jays first-base coach Torey Lovullo, former manager of Boston's Triple-A team, interviewed for the big-league club's managerial job.

Obituary: Charlie Lea, the first French-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the majors, died in Memphis. He was 54. The cause of death was not immediately known. He pitched from 1980 until 1988. He spent six seasons with the Montreal Expos (where he threw a no-hitter in 1981) and one season with the Twins.

Abducted Nationals catcher rescued 11/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:17am]

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