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Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Urbina denies allegations he attacked workers


CARACAS, Venezuela -- Major-league pitcher and Venezuelan national Ugueth Urbina denied on Tuesday allegations by several employees on his ranch he attacked them with machetes and set fire to them.

The employees allege Urbina, a relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, assaulted them on Oct. 15 on his ranch in Ocumare del Tuy in the south of Caracas.

The workers say Urbina and associates attacked them with machetes, poured gasoline and paint thinner on them and then burned them after a party when a gun was discovered missing, according to local media reports.

It is unclear if a gun was involved in the incident.

"What I can say is that I have nothing to do with that and I came here to face my responsibilities," Urbina told reporters upon arriving at the Attorney General's office in Caracas.

Urbina, a relief pitcher for the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins, has not been charged by police. Prosecutors said they wanted to hear his version of what happened at the ranch.

"They are only looking for justice to be done," said Antonio Molina, lawyer for the victims told reporters. He denied the victims were just looking to be paid off.

But Urbina, whose mother was taken hostage for five months last year by kidnappers demanding $6 million, told reporters on Tuesday that famous people were often targeted by criminals or people seeking cash in the South American nation.

"We are always targets of someone," he said.

Urbina's mother was rescued in February at an abandoned tourist campsite in southeast Bolivar state after a gun battle between the abductors and 30 police officers.

Dozens of Venezuelans play professional baseball in the United States. Two years ago, armed thieves robbed a baseball training camp operated by the Seattle Mariners in Venezuela's Carabobo state.