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Bochy: Bumgarner rodeo story 'tops all of them'

@mi_guardado
February 24, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy and Madison Bumgarner developed a close relationship over their 11 shared seasons with the Giants, emerging as two key figures of the club’s championship era last decade. After Bumgarner helped Bochy earn his 1,000th win as Giants manager at Citi Field last year, the veteran

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy and Madison Bumgarner developed a close relationship over their 11 shared seasons with the Giants, emerging as two key figures of the club’s championship era last decade.

After Bumgarner helped Bochy earn his 1,000th win as Giants manager at Citi Field last year, the veteran left-hander called Bochy one of his “best friends in this game.”

But even Bochy wasn’t aware of Bumgarner’s secret rodeo alter ego.

As first reported by The Athletic on Sunday, Bumgarner has competed in several team roping competitions under the alias “Mason Saunders” and won $26,560 at an event at the Rancho Rio Arena in Wickenburg, Ariz., in December, two weeks before he signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the D-backs.

Mason is a shortened version of his first name, while Saunders is the maiden name of his wife, Ali.

“I knew he was doing some roping,” Bochy said Monday at Scottsdale Stadium. “I didn’t know it was on a competitive level. There wasn’t going to be any stopping him. ... It’s pretty impressive how he hid this. And he won, right? I mean, jeez. That’s even more impressive. I’ve got to think that’s the end of him being on the rodeo circuit.”

Bumgarner, who grew up in a rural community in North Carolina, is a cowboy at heart and has been roping since he was a teenager. This isn’t the first time his adventurous pastimes have made headlines, as he infamously suffered a left shoulder injury in a dirt-bike accident in 2017.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said Monday that he knew Bumgarner was a “very strong horseman,” but he wouldn’t disclose whether the club had inserted language in his contract that would prohibit him from engaging in such activities.

“Madison is a grown man, and we know that he is committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team,” Hazen said. “Those have been the conversations that we’ve had from the time we first talked to him until very recently.”

Bochy, who is now a special advisor for the Giants, said he hopes to find time to meet up with Bumgarner this spring and learn more about his double life.

“I can’t wait to talk to him about it,” Bochy said. “I’ve got some stories about him, some things that he’s done, but this one tops all of them.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.