Not his first rodeo: Bumgarner admits to roping under alias

Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Madison Bumgarner throws during spring training baseball practice, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeo events under the alias Mason Saunders and even won $26,560 in a team-roping competition in December, according to a story published Sunday by The Athletic.

Bumgarner told the website he has discretely competed in rodeos for a while, including in March of last year two days before pitching for the San Francisco Giants in a Cactus League spring training game. He has been roping since he was 15 or 16 years old and said he’s been at it so long that “it’s just part of who you are.”

The 2014 World Series MVP agreed to an $85 million, five-year contract with the Diamondbacks in December, about two weeks after winning the rodeo competition in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Bumgarner infamously injured his shoulder in 2017 in a dirt bike accident and missed three months of San Francisco’s season. He apologized at the time and called it a “stupid” decision that likely violated his contract, although the Giants are not believed to have pressed the issue with the four-time All-Star.

Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen told The Athletic he was “not going to get into discussing specific contract language” when asked about Bumgarner’s hobby.

Photos of Bumgarner roping were posted to the Facebook page for Rancho Rio in Wickenburg. Bumgarner — a right-handed roper — said he’s often recognized at rodeo events, but he’s maintained the alias to keep his profile low. He formed the Mason Saunders moniker by shortening his first name and adopting his wife’s maiden name as the surname.

“Something for my wife to call me when we were out in public to keep people from recognizing me,” Bumgarner said. “But you’re going to ruin that for me.”

Bumgarner disputed a widespread narrative that he signed with Arizona “just to have my horses,” but did acknowledge it was a benefit. He also said he may pursue roping more rigorously after his baseball playing days are done.

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