Yorvit Torrealba banned in Venezuela

Texas Rangers backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been suspended 66 games by the Venezuelan League for striking an umpire, league president Jose Grasso Vecchio announced Monday morning on Twitter.

Torrealba struck a home plate umpire after striking out in a game Friday. Shortly after Torrealba, who plays for Leones del Caracas, swung and missed at strike three, he got in the face of the umpire and eventually hit him in the face mask with an open hand.

The suspension covers the rest of this season and all of next season in the Venezuelan League. Penalties in winter ball do not carry over to Major League Baseball.

"I wanted to express my sincere apologies to all parties for my actions during the Venezuelan Winter League game on Friday," Torrealba said in a statement Monday. "I have extended an apology to the Rangers organization as well. I am embarrassed for my conduct, and personally relayed that feeling to the umpire after that night's game. On the field, I strive to be an example for children, especially those in my native Venezuela, and I regret my actions. I understand the reactions to the incident and will make every effort to set a positive example in the future."

Vecchio called Torrealba's behavior unacceptable and a violation of league rules.

"There was a clear act of aggression that violates the statutes of the league," Vecchio said. "One that, like any such act, is unacceptable."

"The punishment is meant to serve as an example. The league acted after analyzing all the known details, that's why the suspension is for close to a year," Vecchio said of the suspension. "We couldn't make it for less, since for a while we have been mounting a campaign against violence in stadiums and during games."

Torrealba plays for the Caracas Lions when not playing in the majors. His agent, Melvin Roman, said Torrealba acknowledged he got carried away.

"(Torrealba) is aware that what he did is wrong. He knows he got caught up in the heat of the moment," Roman said.

Roman and Vecchio said Torrealba has apologized to the umpires personally and is considering holding a news conference to apologize publicly.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels could not be reached for comment. Daniels said over the weekend that the club was aware of the incident and gathering information before determining any possible course of action.

Torrealba, 33, hit .273 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 2011, his first year with the Rangers. He has one more season remaining on his contract.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.