Liriano's visa held up by 2006 drunken driving arrest

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Minnesota Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano is having visa problems because of a drunken-driving arrest in 2006 and expects to be late for the start of spring training.

The Twins open camp Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla. Liriano was among baseball's top rookies in 2006 until an elbow injury ended his year, and the lefty missed the 2007 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Liriano, arrested in Florida in 2006 on charges of speeding and drunken driving, said that tests required by a U.S. consulate in the Dominican Republic will delay his arrival for at least next week.

"They asked me to take a sobriety test, because of my situation with the DUI, since apparently there is a new law calling for that," the 24-year-old Liriano told The Associated Press on Thursday. He said he was informed that he also needs to attend a counseling session.

The (Minneapolis] Star Tribune reported that in July, Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice ordered U.S. consulates to refer visa applicants to panel physicians "when they have a single drunk driving arrest or conviction within the last three calendar years."

The U.S. consulate in Santo Domingo did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

"[The Twins] told me to take it easy and not to worry, that everything is going to come out OK," Liriano said.

Twins general manager Bill Smith said the team was waiting for more information.

"He just found out about it yesterday. Certainly he was surprised by it. But it's the law and he'll do whatever steps he has to go through and then report, hopefully, very shortly," Smith said from the Twins' spring training headquarters in Fort Myers, Fla.

Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 2006.