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Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Urbina arrested on attempted murder charges

ESPN.com news services

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Free agent reliever Ugueth Urbina was arrested and held Tuesday pending a formal charge of attempted murder.

Relief Pitcher
Philadelphia Phillies

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L BB K ERA
81 5 6 39 97 3.62

Last month, Urbina and a group of men allegedly attacked five workers with machetes and poured gasoline on them in an attempt to set them on fire. All five were injured, some of them with cuts and one with burns on the back and right arm, police said.

Urbina, who was detained late Monday, has insisted he had nothing to do with the violence at his family's ranch Oct. 16.

"Everything will be cleared up soon and people will know the truth," Urbina said from his cell at a police station. "Right now we aren't going to do anything to deny things that aren't true."

The authorities said Urbina would be formally charged once he appears before a judge, and Urbina said he understood that hearing could be held Tuesday.

Urbina's lawyer, Jose Luis Tamayo, said the pitcher was sleeping at the time of the incident and was not involved. One victim, Argenis Farias, has accused Urbina of being among the attackers.

Urbina was traded from Detroit to Philadelphia in the middle of last season. The reliever became a free agent after the season ended.

"This, of course, can in some way hurt his career as a professional ballplayer, and all will depend on the way in which he is brought before justice," defense lawyer Jose Luis Tamayo said.

Urbina was with his mother and other relatives late Monday at another of Urbina's homes on the outskirts of Caracas when the police came with an arrest warrant, Tamayo said. He called the arrest "inexplicable."

"Aside from whether a person is guilty of a crime or not, if there is no danger of flight or obstruction of justice, that person has a right to be tried while free," Tamayo said.

The lawyer said Urbina has cooperated with the authorities all along, noting he has come to the police voluntarily to provide testimony.

New Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, speaking at the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., said he had heard about the arrest but had no reaction because Urbina was no longer part of Philadelphia's organization.

The violence broke out at the ranch house where Urbina's mother, Maura Villareal, lives about 25 miles south of Caracas.

Police initially said the violence broke out in a dispute over a handgun.

But Urbina's lawyer has said the pitcher surprised the workers by showing up at the ranch that night while they were bathing in the pool without permission. He said Urbina spoke sharply to them, but later left and went to sleep.

Urbina has said the case comes down to people trying to take advantage of him.

This was the second violent incident in a little more than a year for the Urbina family. Urbina's mother was kidnapped by drug traffickers in September 2004 and held for a $6 million ransom.

She was rescued five months later in a mountainous zone in southern Venezuela. The authorities described her captors as Venezuelan and Colombian drug traffickers.

The 31-year-old Urbina has a 44-49 record with 237 saves and a 3.45 ERA in 11 seasons.

Venezuelans are baseball fanatics and even the country's President Hugo Chavez sometimes wears a baseball uniform and often talks about his baseball days when he was a youth in the armed forces.

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, a native Venezuelan, last week took the Major League Baseball World Series trophy to Caracas on its first trip outside North America after leading his team to victory in October.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.