Double trouble in the desert

Considering the number of Minor League players manager Don Wakamatsu has relied on this spring, it was only a matter of time before the Mariners dipped below the .500 mark in the Cactus League.

Road losses to the Cubs in Mesa and Diamondbacks in Tucson on Friday the 13th left Seattle with a 6-7-1 record.

Hey,but at least the weather was stupendous in both places.

And speaking of weather — a much better subject at the moment than baseball — Mariners fans traveling to the Valley of the Sun from the Land of the Low Clouds next week are in for a treat.

Temps in the low-90s are in the forecast. How sweet is that!

Not only that, there are split-squad doubleheaders scheduled for Monday (Dodgers in Peoria and Indians in Goodyear) and Thursday (Cubs in the afternoon and Padres at night).

Among the highlights in Tucson (besides the weather):

* Third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo (whose name was throroughly botched by the PA announcer every time he stepped into the batter’s box) had two more hits and is now batting a team-best .448.

* Relievers Marwin Vega and Luis Pena eached tossed one scoreless inning after their predecessors, Jason Vargas, Justin Thomas, Chris Sneddon and Eric Hull pretty much threw batting practice.

Anthony Phillips, an 18-year-old Minor League shortstop who made the bus trip to Tucson, was one of the four extra-position players that didn’t get into the game.

And that’s a bummer.

He just returned from Mexico City where he played for South Africa in the World Baseball Classic.

I asked him if he was the youngest player in the Classic and he said South Africa had a 16-year-old on its roster.

Phillips went 1-for-4 in a loss to Cuba and 1-for-5 in a loss to Mexico.

He called the experience “awesome” but was “sad” that it ended so soon.

“I will always remember how loud the fans were,” he said. “There actually were more people at our game against Cuba than Mexico.”

South Africa were hanging in against the host team, losing by one run, before the proverbial roof caved in and they lost, 14-3.

— Jim Street

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