Rainout delays Hideki Matsui's debut

Hideki Matsui took batting practice, ran the bases a little and shagged some fly balls in the outfield Sunday morning. He did not, however, make his Angels debut as rain rolled into Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., around 10:30 a.m. and the scheduled game against the A's was called shortly thereafter.

Matsui said afterward he would also not play Monday when the Angels have to make a hour-long drive to Surprise, Ariz., to play the Texas Rangers.

"I don't think the bus ride would be good for my knees,'' he joked.

The rainout disappointed the 25-deep crowd of Japanese reporters, who'd spent the morning taking video and filming Matsui's name in the batting order posted on the wall outside the Angels clubhouse -- he was set to hit fourth -- and recording the number of balls he hit during batting practice.

The Angels have been easing their new designated hitter into things slowly this spring, allowing him to wait until he felt his chronically sore knees were fully ready to go before he participated in games.

"I've been cautious everyday,'' Matsui said, through his interpreter. "But I've been progressing forward and everything looks good.

"You want to play under good conditions, you don't want to force yourself to play in a condition like this and then something bad happens. We're going to play everyday anyways, so it's not a big deal.''

-- Ramona Shelburne