Visa issue keeps Ponson out

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Although a visa has been approved, Twins righthander Sidney Ponson might be unable to pitch in a spring training game for nearly two weeks.

Barry Praver, Ponson's agent, confirmed Monday that Ponson's meeting to obtain his visa is scheduled for March 9 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. That's the day of the Twins' 10th spring training game.

Another game or two could be lost while Ponson, a native of Aruba, returns to camp.

Praver said an immigration lawyer advised Ponson to get the wrong type of visa. Most players obtain P-1 visas -- visas earmarked for international athletes -- in order to play Major League Baseball. Ponson was advised to obtain an O visa, defined as to "provide specifically for the admission of persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics."It turned out that he can't use the O visa," Praver said.

Ponson has since worked on getting the proper visa.

"It's not a question of it being cleared up," Praver said. "He has approval to get the P-1 visa. [But] there's a backlog of appointments. I think it's frustrating for everybody."

The Twins are trying to get the date of Ponson's meeting changed.

"I'm going to try to get it moved up if I can," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "So will [Praver]. Maybe between the both of us we'll get it done."

The Twins don't appear to be happy that Ponson will be delayed in earning a spot in the starting rotation. Ponson has signed a minor league deal but will earn $1 million if he makes the team.

"[Getting the visa] hasn't been done," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Who's dropping the ball? I know we're not dropping the ball, so somebody on his side, whether it's himself or his agent, needs to get this taken care of."

For now, Ponson can only pitch in "B" games against mostly minor leaguers. But Ryan said the only "B" game currently scheduled is for March 5.

The 30-year-old Ponson has had alcohol-related incidents in the past and also punched a judge in Aruba. But he reported to camp in better shape than he was last year, and his new Twins teammates have reached out to him.

Etc.

• Twins righthander Matt Garza still had a stiff neck and headaches after throwing batting practice Saturday, so the club decided to have him undergo a CAT scan as a precaution. The results should be known today.

• Outfielder Lew Ford went for an MRI on his right knee after feeling some pain while throwing in the outfield. Ford had surgery in January on his left knee, so the Twins are wondering if Ford was overcompensating with his right.

• Infielder Jeff Cirillo, who came down with a stiff neck over the weekend, was unable to do much on Monday and is day to day.

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