From the St. Petersberg Times’ Damien Christodero.

Salvador Delgado said major-league players from the Dominican Republic are viewed as “heros” by their countrymen. But Delgado said some of those countrymen in the New York area are feeling ripped off, and some of baseball’s biggest names, as well as Devil Rays shortstop Julio Lugo, are accused of being involved.

Delgado, an attorney representing convenience store owners who say they unknowingly sold defective phone cards advertised by the players, filed a $35-million civil lawsuit.

Named as defendants, among others, are Lugo, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez and Yankees pitcher Octavio Dotel. Also named are American Worldwide Telecom, STX Communications, TWD Prepaid Cards, STI Mobile and Global Compass Inc.

Delgado said most of the cards known as Grandes Ligas (Major Leagues) were bought by Dominicans who used them to phone home. The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in United States District Court in New York and claims fraud and deceptive advertising, says the cards substantially shortchanged users.

According to the lawsuit, a $2 phone card that was supposed to provide a 70-minute call to the Dominican, provided either nine or 10 minutes.

Ortiz’s agent, Diego Bentz, told the Boston Globe his client, Tejada and Martinez were lured into the deal by Dotel.

“They were trying to do a favor and it just snowballed,” Bentz said.

But Delgado said, “We think it is unlikely that any of the baseball players entered into the preprinted card business as a favor to a friend.”

J.R. Rider was unavailable for comment.

Really, the best part of the above item is the way Christodero distinguishes between “some of baseball’s biggest names” and “as well as Julio Lugo.”