PEORIA, Ariz. -- A passport snafu caused Mariners outfielder Wladimir Balentien to miss the first 10 days of Spring Training, and now he has a lot of ground to make up.

"I have to do double what everyone else is doing just to get on the same page as them," the 24-year-old said Sunday morning. "I wanted to be here before everyone else, but I'm the last one."

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The story behind the late departure from his home in Willemstad, Curacao, and arrival in Arizona, is too bizarre to make up.

"I had a little problem with my passport," he said.

Balentien explained that he was at home in Willemstad in early February with his bags packed and ready to travel to Caracas, Venezuela, where he would pick up his visa and continue his trip to the United States.

The necessary paperwork for the visa had been filed, and he showed up at the United States Embassy expecting to have the visa attached to his passport, clearing the way to his anticipated trip to America.

As Balentien said, he had a little problem with his passport. Actually, it was a big problem.

"They looked at my passport and said it was invalid," he said. "They said it was no good. It was kind of destroyed."

Balentien said he explained to U.S. Customs officials what had happened and repeated the story on Sunday as he stood in front of his locker at the Peoria Sports Complex.

"On the day before I was supposed to leave Curacao," he said, "my luggage was sitting on the floor, and my 3-year-old cousin reached into one of the bags, took out my passport and was playing with it.

"I didn't pay much attention to him, and I didn't see him drop the passport into some water. He handed it to me and it was really wet. I tore out some the pages because they didn't look too good."

Not a wise move.

When he presented his passport to U.S. Embassy officials, red flags flew.

"I told them I didn't know I wasn't supposed to tear out any pages," he added. "But they said I had to get a new passport, and it took a lot longer than I expected."

One day passed. And then another, and another.

Balentien said he was nervous the entire time, not sure when he was going to get a new passport and a visa that he needed to join the Mariners.

"Nothing like that ever happened to me," he said.

As for his young cousin, "I was mad at him at first, but it was an accident. He's just a kid and didn't mean to do it."

Manager Don Wakamatsu said one of the first things Balentien would do after taking his required physical is run the 300-yard shuttle -- a series of six 50-yard dashes, followed by a three-minute break, and six more 50-yard dashes.

"We'll see what kind of shape he's in, and then start integrating him into the workouts," Wakamatsu said. "He's going to go over [to Surprise] and watch the game with us. We'll just take it day-to-day and see when we can get him in there."

Wakamatsu said it probably would be "a minimum of four or five days" before Balentien gets into a Cactus League game.

"I don't think we'll know that until the end," Wakamatsu said when asked what the extended absence from camp would mean for Balentien. "It depends how he plays and what kind of shape he's in. It's too early to tell with that."

The chances of Balentien earning an Opening Day roster spot were "iffy" to begin with. The Mariners acquired outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez in the 12-player trade last December, and the signing of Ken Griffey Jr., last month pushed Balentien ever further down the depth chart.

The fact Balentien batted .202 in 71 games and 243 at-bats last season after being promoted from Triple-A Tacoma was another strike against him. He also is out of options, which means he must clear waivers to be sent back to the Minor Leagues.