Tigers Villarreal glad family safe after robbery

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Brayan Villarreal was sitting at a Red Lobster restaurant when he was texted by his mother that there was danger at his home in Venezuela.

Villarreal was stunned to find out that his father, mother, and 14-year-old brother had been robbed at gunpoint in their own home and held captive last Friday. None of them were harmed, but his father and brother were tied up.

Villarreal was so stunned that he finished his meal before reality set in.

''I was mad,'' Villarreal said on Monday after he pitched an inning for the Detroit Tigers in an 8-5 win over the Houston Astros. ''I was mad and couldn't do anything. That happened and now I am good. They are going to come here and be safe.''

The 25-year-old right-hander said his parents and brother were out of the house when the two robbers were ransacking the place. A neighbor called the police and the robbers both escaped, although one was shot by police, according to Villarreal. He said he has talked with his parents about moving to America but no decision has been made.

''I think they just wanted to steal things from my house,'' Villarreal said. ''If they knew me they would have taken my brother or somebody. They just came in to steal things.''

The home is in what Villarreal described as an area without many houses and that he often visits during the offseason. The robbers had guns, but Villarreal said that he felt safer now that his parents have moved to a new house.

In his first appearance since the robbery, Villarreal pitched one inning and struck out three despite putting men on base with a walk and an error. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he thought Villarreal was dealing with jitters but that he wouldn't change Villarreal's regular routine as he fights for a spot in the Tigers bullpen.

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