LAKELAND, Fla. -- Just when Justin Verlander was ready to face opposing hitters again, he met up with one foe he was never going to beat. Heavy rains at Joker Marchant Stadium washed out Thursday's Grapefruit League game between the Tigers and the split-squad Phillies.
The game will not be made up. Tickets can be exchanged for a future Tigers Spring Training home game, a Class A Advanced Lakeland Flying Tigers home game in the Florida State League, or a refund at the stadium box office.
The game had been in suspense for a while as a weather front crept towards Florida's Gulf Coast overnight and into Thursday morning. The timing of the system passing through was the only question. Once the rain began shortly after 9 a.m. ET, it kept going all morning and into the afternoon, leaving the decision to cancel inevitable. Radar showed a storm system wider than the state of Florida.
Thus, Verlander spent his Thursday throwing yet another side session, this one indoors within the Tigers' batting cages. He couldn't duplicate the game conditions, but the pitches should at least be enough to continue his process of stretching out his arm endurance to be ready for the season.
Verlander's next turn in the Tigers rotation is scheduled for next Tuesday against the Blue Jays, also at Joker Marchant Stadium. Barring no more postponements, he should get four starts against opposing hitters before the season begins.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was scheduled to pitch for the Phillies, and the club has not announced how the rainout will affect its pitching plans going forward.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.