Reliever Luis Ayala unharmed in kidnapping attempt

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Relief pitcher Luis Ayala, who is under a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was unharmed when gunmen stormed his house in Culiacan, Mexico, on Tuesday in an apparent kidnapping attempt.

Martin Robles, a spokesman for the state prosecutors’ office, said investigators believed Ayala was the intended victim, whom police prevented from being abducted.

Robles said gunmen in three vehicles forced their way into Ayala’s home near the city of Los Mochis on Monday by shooting open the door.

The assailants were apparently scared off when soldiers arrived at the scene after police received an emergency phone call. Ayala and his family were not hurt, though the pitcher was found handcuffed.

Ayala is 29-39 with a 3.67 ERA in six seasons with the Expos/Nats, Mets, Twins and Marlins.

This is just the latest is what seems to be a growing trend. In November, the mother of former pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped and later rescued, and last season, the son of catcher Yorvit Torrealba was also kidnapped.

Just last month Mets ace Johan Santana returned to Venezuela, but not without a security detail for he and his family.

You have to wonder at what point “going home” simply isn’t worth the danger anymore, for both the player and his family.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Marlins sign Sean Burnett to minor league deal

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Free agent reliever Sean Burnett signed a minor-league pact with the Marlins on Saturday. Per’s Joe Frisaro, the left-hander is slated to begin the season in extended spring training and will work toward a role in the majors.

Burnett, 35, has not appeared in full-time role in MLB since 2012. He last pitched for a big league team in 2016, surfacing for 5 2/3 innings with the Nationals before returning to the minors. Despite signing a minor-league deal with the Phillies last spring, he failed to make the Opening Day roster and was released prior to the start of the season.

Complicating Burnett’s return is a slew of chronic elbow issues. The left-hander has dealt with everything from bone spurs to a torn UCL over the last six years, and will need to take things slowly in the minors before the Marlins consider adding him to the bullpen this season.