PORLAMAR, Venezuela - Wilson Ramos has always been a man of few words, with a calm and serene temperament.
And so it remains after his abduction of more than 48 hours, which shocked an entire nation.
"I am very excited to be with my family after all I went through," said Ramos in a telephone interview. "Nobody deserves this pain. I am grateful to the government for rescuing me. I went through a fear that doesn't compare to anything."
The 24-year-old Ramos is one of the Washington Nationals' most promising catchers. This year he is preparing to replace as the starter the player who has been his idol since childhood, Puerto Rican Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.
But on Wednesday, gunmen seized Ramos at his residence, located in Santa Ines de Valencia, a city in the central Venezuelan state of Carabobo. For two days, they held him captive.
Ramos said his captors gave him food and water regularly and that he wasn't physically abused. However, he said, there will be scars of a worse sort.
"I was not abused physically, but psychologically, yes," said Ramos. "So many things went through my mind. I realize that my family went through many difficult times, too. It was prayer that got us through it."
The agony culminated on Friday night. The authorities, who had staff assigned to Ramos' family home throughtout the ordeal, told the family only that there was a developing situation on the outskirts of Carabobo, in an area of dense mountains that borders the state of Yaracuy.
There, the police began their rescue operation.
"When they began to rescue me, it felt like an action movie," said Ramos. "The crossfire between the kidnappers and police was intense. In the midst of it I really feared for my life."
At dawn today, Ramos was finally reunited with his parents, who were satisfied to have him back safe and sound, he said.
Ramos was the first active Major League player to be kidnapped, but there
Photos: Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos kidnapped
Ramos said he recognizes the epidemic in his country and keeps it in mind. "I say to all Venezuelans that we should take care of ourselves. No one deserves this. We should rely on God and do everything we can to protect ourselves. There is nothing worse than that feeling," the player said.
Obviously it's early, and delicate, to discuss future plans. But Ramos did not hesitate to express his desire, in gratitude, to return to the baseball league in his country, to play with his team, the Tigres de Aragua (Aragua Tigers).
"I want to play in Venezuela because the fans have been very supportive with their prayers and expressions of support. I want to reward them in some way, because I appreciate everything they did for me," he said. "So I want to be with the Tigers, if only for a short time. Hopefully the Nationals will understand this. But if they decide not to allow it, I would abide by their decision and understand it with great respect."
That decision will obviously come later. The Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo meanwhile released a statement expressing the team's gratitude for Ramos' rescue.
"I join with Wilson in thanking Venezuelan authorities and the investigators from Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive end to this chilling tragedy. At present, our only concern is Wilson and his family. The whole Nationals family is grateful because Wilson has returned home," the statement said.