Pirates' Tabata says wife lied about being pregnant

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates prospect Jose Tabata, reading from a statement in Spanish, said his wife lied to him about being pregnant and then showed to him a baby that she later handed over to authorities, who arrested her on charges of child abduction.

He said Amalia Tabata Pereira, 43, also never informed him that she spent two years and nine months in prison in connection with a fraud and arson case in the same Tampa area where they met and wed while he was a member of the New York Yankees' Class A affiliate there.

"The truth is that my wife told me many lies that, until this whole situation began, I did not know," Tabata, 20, said early this afternoon before taking the field in Pirate City, returning to baseball activity with the Class AA Altoona Curve after taking two days off since the arrest of his wife of 14 months.

"One that hurt me a lot was her history as a criminal -- that she had spent years in prison, that she had robbed and committed fraud. But the worst lie was that she completely falsified her pregnancy and the eventual birth of a baby girl, which would have made me a father for the first time. Imagine how that made me feel."

He added, without taking questions from media, "As you and Pirates fans get to know me, you'll understand that, when this is all over, I will never be able to forgive her for her cruel actions. You will also understand that I will do everything possible, with the support of God and my family here with the Pirates, to overcome this craziness. The truth is I would never wish this situation on anybody, but I know that life has its good and its bad, and I know that the good times are not too far off in the future."

Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said that Pereira had been showing baby pictures to people and introduced Tabata Monday to what she told him was his firstborn -- and to what police said was a 2-month-old belonging to farm workers from Plant City, 56 miles away.

Pereira was sent Wednesday to Hillsborough County Jail on $750,000 bail on a charge of abduction in the case of Sandra Cruz-Francisco, who was taken from Rosa Sirilo-Francisco and Andres Cruz Monday. The mother told Plant City police that a woman who identified herself as "Janet" approached the mother in the Plant City Public Health department as a federal immigration official and demanded she turn over the baby to her or face deportation.

"There are many elements of the story that came to light after her arrest," Huntington said, declining -- like Tabata -- to divulge details of the case at the request of police. "The details of this are protected. [But their] relationship was built on misinformation and lies, the specifics of that I can't go into."

Huntington continued: "As all fathers are, he was excited [to see]. . . what he believe[d] to be his daughter."

Ulises Cabrera, Tabata's California-based agent, said Tabata wrote the 437-word statement. In it, Tabata mentioned his idol, late Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, whose likeness he has tattooed on his chest.

"And because of that, when presented with this difficult situation, I asked myself, 'What would Clemente do in this situation?,' " Tabata read. "I know Clemente was a man known for his decency, responsibility, doing what he says and always doing the correct thing. And I believe the only correct thing in this moment is to tell the truth."

Cabrera added, "Jose cold have had somebody write the statement. ... That was Jose being a man. That's Jose dealing with a case that adults don't deal with at 20. . . . How does anyone deal with a situation like this? It's unbelievable. It's so far from the person that he is. . . , it's tough to comprehend."

Here is the text of Tabata's statement:

"I was completely surprised when I was told that my wife had been arrested this Tuesday because she had never shown any malicious behavior. I had no idea what to think because this news was one of the hardest blows I have had in my life and I don't have many words that can effectively communicate all of my feelings at this time.

"What I do know is that I am a Pittsburgh Pirate and my life-long idol is Roberto Clemente. And because of that, when presented with this difficult situation, I asked myself "what would Clemente do in this situation?" I know Clemente was a man known for his decency, responsibility, doing what he says, and always doing the correct thing. And I believe the only correct thing in this moment is to tell the truth.

"The truth is that my wife told me many lies that, until this whole situation began, I did not know. One that hurt me a lot was her history as a criminal- that she had spent years in prison, that she had robbed and committed fraud. But the worst lie was that she completely falsified her pregnancy and the eventual birth of a baby girl, which would have made me a father for the first time. Imagine how that made me feel.

"As you and Pirates fans get to know me, you'll understand that, when this is all over, I will never be able to forgive her for her cruel actions. You will also understand that I will do everything possible, with the support of God and my family here with the Pirates, to overcome this craziness. The truth is that I would never wish this situation on anybody, but I know that life has its good and its bad, and I know that the good times are not too far off in the future.

"With respect to my wife's case, I, like you, have questions that remain unanswered. However, the Sheriff's deputies have told me not to speak about the details of her criminal case, including the details of our history together and the lies she led me to believe about her. Therefore, I will not be able to comment further or answer any of your questions until the investigation is complete. I do give thanks to God that no harm was made to that baby girl and that she is in safe hands with her parents. My thoughts will always be with them.

"Finally, I am thankful for the strong support of my teammates, coaches and everyone within the Pirates organization during this difficult time. I appreciate everyone's concern for me and I ask that you respect my privacy both now and in the future."



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