All but two Cactus League games rained out

All but two Cactus League games rained out

Spring Training is supposed to feature sunny skies and warm weather as teams gear up for the regular season in the warmer climates of Florida and Arizona.

But that certainly wasn't the case on Sunday in Arizona with seven Cactus League games being cancelled because of rain. Only two scheduled Cactus League contests -- a pair of split-squad games in Tucson between the Rockies and Diamondbacks -- were played on Sunday as heavy rainfall hit the greater Phoenix area.

As a result, the rainouts affected some big names as two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum was scheduled to start for the Giants against the Royals in Surprise, and former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy was scheduled to take the mound for the White Sox against the Cubs in Glendale.

Both Lincecum and Peavy elected to throw simulated games on Sunday as staying on schedule was more important to the pitchers than seeing game action at this point in Spring Training.

"You want to stay on schedule," Peavy said. "We talked about backing it up to Monday and in a game, but then you come back on short rest. Just to stay with the workouts in between on schedule are more important to me. I threw all my pitches about as hard as I would have thrown them in a game today. So, we got the work we needed."

The rain, however, won't affect the debut of top pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman who is still scheduled to make his first Spring Training start with the Reds on Monday against the Royals in Goodyear. The Reds briefly assigned the left-hander to start a "B" game on Monday morning on a practice field, but decided they would rather start Chapman at Surprise Stadium against the Royals as originally planned.

"We thought this would get [Chapman] more acclimated," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We'll let Chapman pitch in the big arena."

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So while the rain affected a few marquee pitchers, it also delayed the debuts of a few big-name sluggers.

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was expected to make his debut in a scheduled "B" game against the Royals in Surprise, but will have to wait one more day to play in his first game since injuring his left shoulder on Feb. 24.

"Everything happens for a reason," Hamilton said. "Maybe the Lord thought I could use another day. I was so excited, though, last night thinking about getting six at-bats."

Meanwhile, Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui was also scheduled to make his debut with the club after resting the first three games of Spring Training because of soreness in his knees.

A large contingent of Japanese reporters even took photos of the Angels' lineup card with Matsui's name in it, but it was all for nothing when the announcement that the game against the A's in Tempe would be canceled due to rain.

"I wasn't necessarily anxious to play," Matsui said through his interpreter, Roger Kahlon. "You want to play under great conditions. It doesn't make sense to play when it's not safe and take a chance on something bad happening."

The safety of the players was the top consideration for the clubs, as Angels director of communications Tim Mead noted that the rainouts give home teams a sizable financial hit, but "you can't replace injured players."

The seven affected home teams -- the Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Brewers and Mariners -- all offered their fans the opportunity to trade their tickets in for a Spring Training game at a later date, and in some cases, full refunds.

So while the rain caused disappointment for both the clubs and fans, they can take solace in the fact that rainouts are a rare occurrence in the Cactus League, with some clubs suffering a rainout for the first time in nearly four years.

But even though the rainouts are so rare, it's no secret that many around baseball hope it'll be even longer than four years before another one hits the Cactus League.

"It's not supposed to do this out here," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It is never good to have a rainout in Spring Training. You want to get in as much fundamental work as you can every day."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.