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Madison Bumgarner’s rodeo interest a ‘non-issue’ to D-backs’ Torey Lovullo

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

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo called Madison Bumgarner’s rodeo hobby a “non-issue” Monday but did acknowledge the pitcher must be mindful about his duties to stay away from off-field dangers.

A story published by The Athletic this weekend uncovered that Bumgarner has roped in nearby Wickenburg, Ariz., as recently as this past December under the alias “Mason Saunders.”

Coupled with Bumgarner’s April 2017 dirt-bike accident that led him to a disabled list stint with the San Francisco Giants, there is a reason to wonder if the D-backs feel comfortable with the pitcher’s hobbies after signing him to a five-year deal worth approximately $85 million.

“He’s here to compete, he’s here to help us grow and learn, help us win a championship,” Lovullo said Monday before the D-backs faced the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. “He’s a great teammate and we’re getting to know him. So that’s why right now it’s really a non-issue for me.

“I guess if you want to dig into it that far … I want him to be safe, I want him to be healthy, I want him to come out and pitch every fifth day. Those will be the types of things we’ll talk about.”

Lovullo said he has not spoken to Bumgarner specifically about the safety issues of his horse-riding hobby but on the first day of camp did push a message to the entire team about being smart off the field in the name of being available on it.

What the manager doesn’t want to do is force players away from their interests. He wants them to lead balanced lives away from baseball.

“You could add my name to the list of (making) bad decisions growing up,” Lovullo said. “Playing basketball during the offseason — I wasn’t supposed to but it was hard for me not to. I loved it. It was a way for me to condition. I want these athletes to be themselves, I want them to be mindful of what they have to do to go out and perform, I want them to be smart.”

As for The Athletic’s piece publicly revealing Bumgarner’s rodeo alias and the photographic evidence that came with it, Lovullo couldn’t help but be impressed.

“I don’t know Mason Saunders yet but he’s a pretty impressive guy. Seen a picture of him doing some pretty amazing things. He’s a pretty impressive guy — we’ll leave it at that. I think we’ve all seen the same pictures, we’re all pulling from the same pool of pictures. You can’t tell me that looks easy.”


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