03/25/09 10:36 AM ET
Prospect's wife arrested for abduction
Pirates outfielder Tabata not involved in alleged kidnapping
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Tabata's wife, Amalia Tabata Pereira, is being questioned in the abduction of Sandra Cruz-Francisco, a two-month old girl who Pereira allegedly took from a Plant City, Fla., family on Monday. The infant was found safe on Tuesday in Bradenton, Fla., the same city where the Pirates hold Spring Training.
"Due to the nature of this ongoing investigation, we cannot discuss any specifics of the case, other than to say that, like Jose, we are extremely thankful the young child was safely returned to her family," Coonelly added. "Our hearts go out to her and her family for the pain they must have endured during the hours that she was missing."
Tabata issued his own statement on the matter on Tuesday night.
"I was shocked to be told today that my wife has been arrested for kidnapping," he said. "I am hurt, frustrated, and confused by her actions. I have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials in any way that I can. Until I have all of the facts, I cannot comment any further."
Tabata, 20, married Pereira, 43, in January 2008, according to Hillsborough County records. Tabata was traded by the Yankees to the Pirates last July in a Trade Deadline deal that netted the Pirates four players in exchange for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. He was recently listed as the Pirates' third-best prospect, according to Baseball America.
Tabata, who was put on the Pirates' 40-man roster this past offseason, participated in Major League camp this spring. He was optioned to Double-A Altoona on March 18 and has been participating in Minor League camp since.
Pereira appeared in a Manatee County court on Wednesday and will remain in jail on a $750,000 bond. She is reportedly going to be moved back to Hillsborough County, the location of the kidnapping, at some point soon.
She has been charged with interference with child custody, kidnapping and false imprisonment, The Associated Press reported.
The baby, Sandra Cruz-Francisco, was taken from her mother, Rosa Sirilo-Francisco, at about 3 p.m. on Monday by a woman her family simply knew as "Janet," Plant City police told the AP.
According to the Tampa Tribune, Sirilo-Francisco took the baby to the Plant City Health Department for a checkup and met "Janet," who claimed to be an immigration official and told the mother that immigration officers were waiting at her home to deport her and the baby's father to Mexico. "Janet" said she would help the parents, but she needed to take the baby.
The Tribune reported that the two women then drove the baby to a farm where the baby's father works, where "Janet" relayed the same story to him. Soon after, the mother gave "Janet" the baby. This story has not been confirmed by Plant City police, according to the AP.
Plant City police Capt. Darrell Wilson told the AP on Tuesday evening that Pereira has a criminal record, with theft and fraud convictions. Wilson also said that Pereira has a number of known aliases. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the AP that they are investigating the matter.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.