WASHINGTON -- John Lannan was prepared to face the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Instead, the Washington Nationals left-hander waited out a nearly two-hour rain delay, then turned his attention to watching video of an unexpected opponent.
Sunday's scheduled game between the Cardinals and Nationals was postponed by rain after a delay of 1 hour, 54 minutes. Lannan's start was pushed back to Monday night, when he'll face the Houston Astros in the opener of a two-game series at Nationals Park.
However, heavy rains are forecast for Washington on Monday, meaning that start also could be in jeopardy.
"I'm going to go watch some video. I faced the Astros a couple of times -- I faced them in spring training and I faced them last year. I'm familiar with the hitters, more so than the Cardinals," Lannan said.
Sunday's game never got started as persistent showers swept through Washington and never let up.
No makeup date was immediately announced, and choosing one for the rescheduled game could be tricky. It was the last in a four-game series between the teams that marks the Cardinals' only visit to Washington this season.
The grounds crew removed the tarp twice to drain water, once more to spread drying compound over the infield, then a final time to rid it of more accumulated precipitation. There were several hundred fans in the stands when the postponement was announced at 3:29 p.m.
"We decided [the field] was too dangerous to play on," said Mike Rizzo, Washington's acting general manager.
St. Louis had already scratched scheduled starter Kyle Lohse because of the wet conditions and replaced him with reliever Kyle McClellan, who would have made his first major league start.
Instead, McClellan will return to the bullpen and Lohse will start Monday night at home against Philadelphia.
"We said McClellan was going to be the starter, so we got Kyle out of his starter mentality [and] thinking about tomorrow," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "That works well."
McClellan, who had never pitched more than three innings in his 78 relief appearances over the past two seasons, was surprised when informed of the switch.
"I had no clue," he said. "I didn't know what the weather was. That's kind of life in the bullpen. The phone rings and you're ready to go."
The Cardinals and Nationals share only three common off days for the remainder of the season: May 28, June 15 and July 23. Washington plays a three-game series in St. Louis from Aug. 28-30.
Baseball's collective bargaining agreement prevents teams from playing more than 20 consecutive days, though that provision can be mutually waived by the teams involved.
"We're trying to figure out what the options are," said McClellan, the Cardinals' union representative. "It will probably be a few days."
The Nationals agreed to a non-guaranteed, minor league contract with RHP Mike MacDougal, designated for assignment April 21 by the Chicago White Sox. MacDougal, who had a 12.54 ERA in five games with Chicago this season, will report to Triple-A Syracuse. "He's going to be in Triple-A until he proves he's better than what we've got up here in the big leagues," Rizzo said. "It's a depth-in-inventory insurance policy type of thing ... to have reinforcements in case we need them." MacDougal is 13-20 with 50 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 262 games with Kansas City and Chicago.