UGUETH URBINA was released from prison on Saturday after serving about 5 1/2 years of his 14-year sentence. Time off for good behavior, they said.
What was his crime? He tried to slice and burn two farm workers suspected of trespassing on his family's Venezuelan ranch.
The attack came just 2 weeks after Urbina pitched two-thirds of an inning in the Phillies' final game of 2005. In what was his last big-league season, Urbina went 4-3 with a save and a 4.13 ERA for the Phils. He came to Philadelphia along with Ramon Martinez from Detroit in June in exchange for Placido Polanco, who was traded so that a young Chase Utley could get more at-bats.
Some of his former teammates are coming to his defense.
Bobby Abreu, a Phillies teammate, said, "I'm very happy because my buddy is currently free. Anyone who knows him well, knows his humanity, regardless of the [incident]. I love and respect him a lot."
Juan Vicente Zerpa, manager of the Leones de Caracas of the Venezuelan winter league, said he would "welcome" Urbina on his team. "He already paid his debt to society," Zerpa said. "This is his home; our doors are open to Ugueth Urbina. He is a Lion."
Urbina chasing down workers with a machete and gasoline might seem out of the ordinary, but his behavior isn't too bizarre when you consider what happened to his mother, Maura Villarreal, in September 2004. She was kidnapped from the same family ranch and held for a ransom of $6 million. Dressed as police, the kidnappers opened a tall, sliding gate, showed a fake search warrant and left with Villarreal.
The family, at the urging of authorities, refused to pay the ransom and she was eventually rescued by an anti-kidnapping unit on Feb. 18, 2005.
And in 1994, Urbina's father, Juan, was murdered by bandits in a botched robbery attempt in Caracas.
It is little wonder that Urbina put up such an unusual defense of his family's home.