Giants

Bruce Bochy didn't know of Madison Bumgarner's rodeo competition alias

Bruce Bochy didn't know of Madison Bumgarner's rodeo competition alias

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy leaned against the railing of the dugout he called his spring home for over a decade. He smiled when asked about Madison Bumgarner, his longtime ace and close friend. 

"This," Bochy said, "Is the first I'm hearing of Mr. Saunders."

Mr. Saunders -- Mason Saunders, to be exact -- is Bumgarner's alias in team-roping competitions. The Athletic reported Monday that Bumgarner has participated in competitions under an alias, a story that still had teammates laughing a day later, as they prepared to face Bumgarner's Arizona Diamondbacks.

It was sent around in text messages Sunday night as word first got out. 

Bochy was coy when asked about how much he knew over the years. He joked he was a "little disappointed he didn't call me" to compete, but then said that in all seriousness, he's most amazed by the fact that the story didn't leak earlier given "his presence and who he is."

"That's pretty good, really. I knew he was doing some roping, I didn't know it was on the competitive level," Bochy said. "There wasn't going to be any stopping him. I've had players, like (Ryan) Klesko, he was out there surfing. You don't know what they're doing on their own time but to do it on a competitive level, that's pretty impressive how he hid this. 

"And he won, right? I mean, geez, that's even more impressive." 

Bumgarner did win $26,560 in a competition late last year. The Athletic reported on Bumgarner's side gig after the discovery of a photo on a Facebook page showing that Mason Saunders, a man who looked just like Madison Bumgarner, had just won a competition. 

Some former teammates said Monday that they knew Bumgarner was attending rodeos and working on roping in his spare time, but there seemed to be some surprise and amusement at the fact that he was actually competing. It was an open secret in the clubhouse that Bumgarner, who reached mythical figure status after 2014, was doing things often forbidden by standard player contracts. The first public sign of that was when he had a high-profile dirt bike crash in 2017.

Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen told reporters on Monday that he doesn't tell players what they can and cannot do off the field, noting that "Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team."

[RELATED: What makes young D-backs so excited to play with Bumgarner]

The Giants basically took the same approach. When Bumgarner crashed in 2017 the team could have fined him and helped lower their CBT payroll, but elected not to. The Giants knew Bumgarner was riding horses -- they put him on one for a ceremony even though Bumgarner warned team officials that a horse could be unpredictable in front of 40,000 fans -- and roping.

Bochy said he doesn't think anybody knew he was actually competing. 

"I've got to think that's the end of him being on the rodeo circuit," he said, smiling. 

Giants' Larry Baer believes Arizona might be best spot for MLB season

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USATSI

Giants' Larry Baer believes Arizona might be best spot for MLB season

It remains to be seen when, or even if, the 2020 MLB season will happen.

Coronavirus continues to leave the season suspended indefinitely, as MLB stadiums remain devoid of all typical spring activities.

One idea that has been thrown out is the league holding a shortened version of the season in a neutral location, like team spring training hubs in Florida and Arizona.

“I think we’ve got to look at the path that presents the best public health option,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said Friday on KNBR. “Arizona might be a better possibility because you could get 30 teams there in more approximate distancing, meaning that everybody would not be a four or five-hour drive from one ballpark to another.”

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All of Arizona’s Cactus League spring training stadiums are within the same county (Maricopa), while Florida’s Grapefruit League stadiums stretch all across the expansive state, with some being hundreds of miles apart.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Giants' sim opener on MLB The Show]

Baer emphasized that many scenarios have been thrown out around the league, but that the safety of all those involved with the game should take precedent.

“That’s one idea, there are other ideas out there,” Baer said. “I just think we’ve got to chase down every possible idea to return baseball, but only when it’s safe and only when [there is] public health clearance.”

Joey Bart-Buster Posey comparisons legit, ex-Giants GM Bobby Evans says

Joey Bart-Buster Posey comparisons legit, ex-Giants GM Bobby Evans says

Back in 2008, the Giants selected a franchise-altering player in the first-round of the MLB draft.

Ten years later, the Giants drafted Joey Bart at No. 2 overall, hoping he would have the same impact that Buster Posey had on the franchise over the last decade.

Before he was fired as general manager in Sept. 2018, Bobby Evans was responsible for drafting Bart. What did Evans and the Giants see in the Georgia Tech star? The former long-time Giants executive was asked that during an interview on KNBR 680 on Friday.

"He's just so far advanced, for us, looking at him at Georgia Tech and we had a chance to track him throughout his time there," Evans said. "Our scout covering Georgia Tech at the time played at Georgia Tech and had a good inside track as to who Joey was. But he was able to see, this was a guy in college that is calling his own game, he takes as much pride in what he's doing behind the plate as he does with the bat. He's a smart, smart hitter. He's at Georgia Tech for a reason because he's a smart guy to begin with, but he's a smart hitter.

"The challenge he'll have as he advances is, he's got right-center field power which he'll have to continue to work on at [Oracle Park] and other places. But the power is real and it's raw and you've got a lot to look forward to in Joey."

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Ever since he was drafted, Bart has been seen as the heir apparent to Posey, and Evans gave credence to the comparisons.

"The flashes of Buster Posey are not lost on us, because there's so much common ground there, really starting with the character of the player," Evans said.

Bart finished the 2019 season at Double-A and was expected to begin the 2020 season at Triple-A before the global coronavirus pandemic stopped everything.

[RELATED: Why Bart was reassigned in camp]

Once baseball does begin, Giants fans everywhere will be keeping an on Bart's every move, hoping they soon will see him at Oracle Park in San Francisco.