Madison Bumgarner says that any suggestion that he joined the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason simply because playing in Phoenix would allow him to be closer to his horses was overblown. In fact, he referred to any such assertion as bull----.
Ironically, the four-time All-Star pushed back against the offseason narrative in an interview with Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic where he admitted that he has used the alias "Mason Saunders" to compete in rodeo competitions:
Bumgarner, still only 30, suggested in the interview that he was less concerned with people inside baseball knowing about his involvement in rodeos and more trying to keep his hobby on the down low from the media:
“Oh boy,” Bumgarner said Sunday when shown the photo. “This is ruining my alias.”
“There’s been hundreds and hundreds of partners,” he said. And people in baseball? “Everybody knows about it,” he said. Teams and players. “Word gets around.”
“The media didn’t know,” he added, “until now.”
Of course, an easy way to out yourself is by posing for pictures after winning events, which Bumgarner did last December, while he was still a free agent:
Less than two weeks after this picture was taken, Bumgarner agreed to a five-year/$85 million contract to join the Diamondbacks in free agency. Neither he or Diamondbacks' general manager Mike Hazen were willing to discuss if there are any provisions in Bumgarner's deal about competing in these events. Certainly, though, one would think that the Diamondbacks' organization was aware that Bumgarner liked to compete in rodeos. After all, the two photos featured in this article were taken at Rancho Rio Arena in Wickenburg, Arizona, which is just over an hour away from Chase Field, where the Diamondbacks play their home games.
A season ago, Bumgarner went 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA across 207.2 innings for the San Francisco Giants. After spending the first 11 seasons of his career with the Giants, he signed with their divisional rivals, who have playoff aspirations in a crowded National League after winning 85 games a season ago.