From camp to camp, the stories virtually are the same: Baseball players, many of them multimillionaires, are short on cash because the government froze accounts in the businesses of Texas financier R. Allen Stanford.

The Yankees’ Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady; former Yankee Bernie Williams; the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey; Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury; Seattle’s Adrian Beltre; Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena; and Philadelphia’s Scott Eyre are among those who say they’ve had accounts frozen.

“If we paid our bills, we wouldn’t have any money,” Eyre said. “I’ll pay back whenever I can. I invested in (Stanford) three years ago – thought it was too good to be true – and it was.”

Philadelphia advanced Eyre an undisclosed amount of his $2 million salary Wednesday. Eyre said his only other bank account has a $3,000 balance.

The players are clients of agent Scott Boras, and Pelfrey said he got involved through the use of an accountant recommended by him. While some invested directly with Stanford’s businesses, others are trapped because they have accounts with broker-dealers who used Stanford as a clearinghouse.

Major League Baseball doesn’t have a handle yet on the exact number of players involved.

“We are aware of the situation, and given the number of players involved, we’re monitoring it closely,” said Rob Manfred, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office.

Securities and Exchange Commission officials raided the offices of Stanford on Feb. 17 and froze the assets of three companies he controls, saying he perpetrated an $8 billion investment fraud.

“They called me, my financial advisers. I don’t even know how much money I have in those accounts. It’s not much,” said Beltre, a third baseman for the Mariners. “They said my money is safe, that they are holding it while the guy is under investigation. But the account is safe.”

Personal Management Consultants, part of Scott Boras Corp., audits the players’ financial advisers.

Players are not certain when their money will become available.

“Every indication I’ve gotten,” Pelfrey said, “is that I will get it all back, but we’ll wait and see. Any time anything gets frozen, it’s always better to have access to it, and that’s not the case right now.”

Several Boras clients, such as the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, Oakland’s Matt Holliday, San Francisco’s Barry Zito and the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and Oliver Perez said their investments were not tied up with Stanford.

Those who don’t have access to their accounts are angry at Stanford.

“He’s a billionaire. Does he really need to do a scam to make more money?” Eyre said. “I don’t think they needed to freeze everything – that’s just stupid.”

Michael Weiner, general counsel of the players’ association, said the issue had been brought up as the union started its spring training tour of camps this week.

“I don’t know numbers, but I’ve already had a couple of players ask me about it,” he said.

Ellsbury, an outfielder on the Red Sox, said he had direct investments in Stanford funds.

“But I’m pretty well diversified. It hasn’t affected me,” he said. “If this goes on for a long time or is a long-term deal that could change, but I’m fine right now.”

Ralph S. Janvey, a Dallas lawyer appointed by a federal judge to oversee the recovery of Stanford assets, said last Friday that investors could not access their cash or transfer funds out of their accounts “for the foreseeable future.”

Damon said he intends to have his pay deposited in different accounts this year.

Pelfrey said he was told Boras and his accountant did not receive any fees for the players’ involvement. “There is no incentive for them to be a part of that,” Pelfrey said.

Boras said he hopes the players caught up in the freeze are given access to their money soon.

“The broker-dealers the players have chosen have advised our personal management auditors the players are not in jeopardy of losing money,” Boras said in an e-mail to The Associated Press last Friday. “I understand government agencies are trying to protect the investor. Hopefully, the agencies will distinguish between those investors who are actually invested in Stanford products from investors whose broker-dealers used Stanford as a clearinghouse and are not affected by the potential claims levied by the government. I trust government agencies will take quick steps to narrow the affected investor class and restore account access to all others.”

For now, though, all the players can do is wait.


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