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L.A. Lied About Beltre's Age?

Adrian Beltre's agent said Tuesday he has evidence proving the Los Angeles Dodgers altered his client's birth certificate in order to sign the third baseman when he was underage.

Boras, who wants Beltre declared a free agent, said he obtained his client's personnel file from the Dodgers under California state law and it contained four visas that showed Beltre was 15 when the team signed him in 1994, not 16, the youngest age baseball allows teams to sign players.

The commissioner's office is dispatching a delegation to meet with Beltre on Thursday in the Dominican Republic. Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office, expects a decision on Beltre's status in December.

Dodgers senior vice president Tom Lasorda said Nov. 16 that Beltre knew he was underage when he signed.

"The file reflects that he gave them a birth certificate that said he was born in 1979," Boras said, "and it was altered to make it appear as if he was born in 1978."

Boras said the file contained both the correct birth certificate and one that had the "1979" whited out and replaced by "1978."

Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone referred questions to team counsel Sam Fernandez.

"My response is that this matter is under investigation by the commissioner's office, that we are cooperating fully with the commissioner's investigation, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this matter at this time," Fernandez said.

"Beltre has consistently asserted his true age, and the Dodgers were aware of his true age," Boras said.

According to Boras, Beltre's file contains visas for 1996-99 that say his client was born in 1979. In addition, Boras said Beltre's Dominican passport, which was issued in 1996, his Florida's driver's license and his international driver's license all list Beltre's birthdate as April 7, 1979.

Beltre hit .275 with 15 homers, 67 RBIs and 18 steals this year in his first full season with the Dodgers. While he would get $300,000 to $400,000 next year if he remained under the team's control, he could command millions of dollars as a free agent.

Earlier this year, the Dodgers lost two Cuban players because they signed before they were 16. Infielder Juan Diaz and outfielder Josue Perez were declared free agents by commissioner Bud Selig, and the Dodgers were fined $200,000. Perez later signed with Philadelphia for $850,000,

Roy Krasic, a deputy under Alderson, will go to the Dominican Republic to meet with Beltre along with Ed Burns and Lou Melendez, lawyers in the commissioner's office.

Because Beltre has a major league contract, the players' association could file a grievance if his request for free agency is denied. Tha would force the matter before an arbitrator.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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