TEMPE, Ariz. — Mother Nature played the hidden ball trick on the Diamondbacks on Friday. The rain and gusty wind conditions were particularly hard on D-backs catcher Wil Nieves.
“I felt like a goalie,” Nieves said. “I just saw shapes coming at me. Catching, I knew what was coming, so that was OK. But hitting, I couldn’t really see it. You couldn’t pick up the spin.”
The Diamondbacks’ exhibition game against the Angels was called at 1-1 — with the bases loaded for the Angels — after 2 2/3 innings and 40 minutes at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“It’s a good thing they stopped it because somebody was going to get hurt, and it was probably going to be me,” Nieves said.
The start was delayed 35 minutes, and it rained off and on throughout the game. Just after the game was called, it hailed briefly.
D-backs scheduled starter Randall Delgado threw 36 pitches in 1 2/3 innings, although he did not enter until the second inning. The D-backs got only a 20-minute heads-up on the start time, and they did not want to rush Delgado without a proper warmup. Brad Ziegler started and threw 30 pitches in the first inning, giving up a run. Aaron Hill’s home run in the first had given the D-backs a 1-0 lead.
Delgado gave up two singles and a walk to the first three batters in the third before striking out Luis Jimenez and Kaleb Cowart in the rain. The game was called before the next hitter got to the plate.
“That was good, the last out that he got,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “The conditions were really tough. You worry about guys getting hurt in that situation, but at the same time, you have to learn how to play in it. It was good to see the strikeout.
“It wasn’t ideal, because Delgado wasn’t ready, so we hurried up and got Ziegler ready like we would in a game. We got a little something out of the day.”
One of three candidates for the final starting rotation spot, Delgado said it was his best outing of the spring.
“It was a little bit cold and rainy, but it is the kind of game situation you have to pitch in. I felt better today. Even with the rain and all, I tried to keep my concentration. Sometimes with the bases loaded, you get a little pressure, but you have to control that,” Delgado said.
Gibson and Angels manager Mike Scioscia had several conversations during the game before it was called.
With heavy rain forecast, the Angels revamped their starting lineup about 30 minutes before the game. Scioscia removed all his regulars, including Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo. The uniform numbers for the new starting nine totaled 406.
The D-backs took Jason Kubel out of the lineup, too. Alfredo Marte was in the on-deck circle to bat for Kubel when the top of the first inning ended, and he went to left field in the last of the inning.
“He had the knee (injury) with the Twins and didn’t want him running around out there and trying to aggravate that thing,” Gibson said.
NOTES: Outfielder Tony Campana was given eight stitches to close a laceration on the top of his left hand — the result of a spiking Thursday — and said he expects to be out about a week. The cut was over his left middle knuckle and just missed a tendon. Campana would be available to run, but manager Kirk Gibson he ill not use Campana until he is healthy. … DH Didi Gregorius had a hit in his only plate appearance Friday, singling down the right-field line before being thrown out trying to stretch it. Gregorius is playing catch at 75 feet, and his timetable remains the same — about the start of the regular season. “He’s several weeks away from throwing the ball across the diamond,” Gibson said. … Next knuckler Josh Booty threw two- and four-seam fastballs and his knuckleball in a bullpen session Friday, and manager Kirk Gibson said Booty is getting closer to be scheduled into a game. “He threw the ball decent. Getting closer,” said Gibson, noting that Booty has lost 10-15 pounds since he joined the team two weeks ago.