Guest of Reds pitcher questioned about robbery inside Pittsburgh hotel

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PITTSBURGH —

The girlfriend of a Cincinnati Reds pitcher spent hours under police questioning on Wednesday, telling investigators that a man posing as a maintenance worker bound and robbed her in a Downtown hotel room.

Claudia Manrique, 26, of Silver Spring, Md., was found with her wrists tied by cloth napkins when guests heard her screaming in her room at the Omni William Penn about 10 p.m. Tuesday while her boyfriend, Aroldis Chapman, and his team faced the Pirates during a rain-delayed game at PNC Park.

Channel 11’s Alan Jennings reported that the intruder gained access to Manrique's room by knocking on the door and claiming to be a maintenance man who was there to fix a toilet.

Investigators said hotel security was called when guests at the hotel heard the woman calling for help. The guests said they went in the hallway to see what happened and discovered Manrique in a room with an open door, crying with her hands bound by cloth napkins.

Police said Manrique was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital where she was interviewed by detectives. Following Tuesday’s game, Chapman was also interviewed by detectives.

Pittsburgh police detectives spent several hours interviewing Manrique at their headquarters in the North Side Wednesday before bringing her to the Zone 2 police station in the Hill District about 3 p.m.

She was released shortly after 8:30 p.m. and left the building with a towel draped over her head to avoid being photographed. She declined to comment.

Manrique was accompanied by a man and a woman who drove her away in a car with Maryland license plates.

Investigators declined to discuss the interviews.

According to police, Chapman and Manrique met two months ago in Washington. He asked her to meet him in Pittsburgh, and she flew in on Tuesday, police said.

Authorities said when the attacker entered Chapman's room he began demanding items from the room. When Manrique refused, police said, the man tied her up and took jewelry, clothing, a computer, credit cards and identification cards.

Police said Manrique was not sexually assaulted but was found partially naked.

Officers said they are working to obtain surveillance video from the hotel in an effort to make an arrest.

The Reds released the following statement Wednesday: "We are aware of the hotel room robbery of one of our players and are working with local law enforcement agencies. Because it is an active police investigation, we have no other comment at this time."

Pirates players and others said the incident serves as a reminder that wealthy contracts and public lives can make athletes or their loved ones targets for criminals, especially on the road.

"Their work schedules are published in the papers," said Greg Bouris, spokesman for the Major League Baseball Players Association in New York. "The public knows where they're going to be and where they're not going to be. It makes them easy targets."

Hotel officials said they don’t believe the suspect worked for the hotel.

"Our security procedures are very stringent," Bob Page, marketing director at the Omni William Penn said. "Unfortunately, a hotel is a big place."

Chapman, 24, defected from Cuba while playing for his country's national team in the Netherlands in July 2009. The Reds signed him the next year to a five-year contract worth $25 million, plus an option year for $5 million.

Nicknamed "The Cuban Missile," the left-handed pitcher regularly reaches 100 mph with his fastball.

The Reds barred reporters who do not travel with the team from entering the locker room at PNC Park. Reds spokesman Jamie Ramsey said the move was aimed at protecting Chapman and other players from discussing the attack.

Pirates catcher Rod Barajas, a 14-year veteran, said players and their families use aliases on the road so nobody can call their rooms. When he and his family enter a hotel room, he locks the deadbolt and does not answer the door unless he knows who is knocking.

"Everybody knows when you're coming to town, and for the most part they know what hotel you're staying in. It's definitely a big issue," Barajas said.

"As a player, you're constantly thinking about your family," he added. "It's definitely something that will be brought up. I'll remind the kids, 'Never open that door (because) you never know what could happen.'"

Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan believes players are targets because their lives are so widely viewed. Cameras in the clubhouse allow fans to see if a player has an expensive chain or watch, and many fans stay late for autographs and know what type of cars they drive.

"People know what you have," Hanrahan said. "Not everyone is your friend, even if they're nice to you."

On road trips, he does not allow anyone to enter his hotel room, not even housekeeping.

"We're only there three days," he said. "We can't make that big of a mess."

Even before prospects make the Major Leagues, baseball officials warn them of the dangers of celebrity, Bouris said.

Every spring, organizations send their top four prospects through a rookie career development program, he said. Experts, including former players, advise the prospects on an array of issues, including how to handle their finances and security threats.

MLB's security department talks to every team and teaches them how to guard against crimes, including assault and identity theft, Bouris said. Each team also is assigned "a resident security adviser to advise them on security issues," he said.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.