Lawsuit filed against Ramirez, agent
Torres representing Sox shortstop vs. former handlers
ANAHEIM -- A lawsuit filed by two former handlers of Alexei Ramirez in the Dominican Republic against Ramirez and his current agent, Jaime Torres, is nothing but a way to make money off the successful White Sox shortstop, according to Torres.
"These are two individuals in the Dominican who thought they would be able to extort money from Alexei, but they did not get away with it," Torres told MLB.com on Thursday morning. "A lot of stuff is going to come out as to how they broke quite a few laws in the Dominican Republic."
Julio Martinez and Ramon Fernandez are suing Ramirez and Torres for $450,000 for his signing bonus, $131,056 for what Ramirez has made so far in Major League Baseball and $20 million for damages, according to an Associated Press report. Ramirez agreed to a four-year, $4.75 million deal with the White Sox prior to the 2008 season and finished second in the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year voting with a .290 average, 21 home runs and 77 RBIs.
"There's a contract that they haven't honored to pay 30 percent of the signing bonus upon turning professional and 5 percent of all his earnings as a professional ballplayer, which we're going to make sure is done," Manuel Valdez, the plaintiffs' lawyer, told the AP.
According to court papers, the plaintiffs claim to have covered Ramirez's food, lodging and training before he signed with Chicago. The first court hearing in the case is scheduled for June 2.
Torres says Martinez and Fernandez wanted to serve as buscones, agents of sorts in the Dominican, once Ramirez arrived from Cuba. Torres said that Martinez "grew up with the father of Alexei's wife," so he was like a family member.
"He's the one that went to Cuba and said that I'm going to get you there with a visa," Torres said. "All of that would have been automatic with Alexei since he was entitled to be there by being married to a Dominican citizen."
Once Ramirez came to the Dominican and decided to take a shot at playing in the Majors, Torres was recommended to him as an agent by White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras. Torres also represented Ramirez's fellow countryman, as well as Dayan Viciedo, a third Cuban émigré currently playing for Double-A Birmingham.
Ramirez wanted Torres to represent him and informed Martinez and Fernandez.
"They thought they would be able to control him there in the Dominican," Torres said. "They ended up stealing his passport. They held on to Alexei's passport and his wife's passport until he followed the contract they had, which Alexei and I have never seen.
"We realized what they were trying to do. Basically, they resorted to this."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.