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Rodeo aside, D-backs’ Madison Bumgarner has 1st start of spring

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws during the first inning during a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Scottsdale Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mason Saunders wasn’t made available to the media on Thursday afternoon. Only the pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, spoke about his first start of spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“How have your teammates reacted to being around a rodeo star?” a reporter jokingly asked Bumgarner.

“Like I said, I felt really good today out there,” Bumgarner responded, drawing some chuckles. “Everything felt good and I was happy with where it was at.”

The veteran pitcher has pitched in three different World Series, is a four-time finisher in the top 10 of Cy Young Award voting and played 11 seasons for the San Francisco Giants during their glory days. But for the first time in his career, Bumgarner was pressed about his double life, one that involved him competing in rodeo events as was reported just this week.

“What has this week been like for you from that perspective?” asked another inquiring mind.

Bumgarner: “Preparing for the start, you’re saying?”

Reporter: “Since that story came out.”

Bumgarner: “What story? You’re going to have to help me a little.”

Another reporter: “The story about you competing in rodeos.”

Bumgarner: “Like I said, felt really good out there today.”

Bumgarner, pitching in a uniform other than that of the San Francisco Giants for the first time in his major league career, gave up a solo home run to the Cincinnati Reds’ Derek Dietrich in the second inning, a blast that easily cleared the right field wall and landed on the lawn at Salt River Fields.

But he was otherwise effective and efficient, throwing 24 pitches total through two innings, 17 of those for strikes, and getting swings and misses as he struck out four of the seven batters he faced. The home run to Dietrich was his only baserunner.

“I felt good,” he said. “A lot better than expected for the first game of spring, especially the way it usually goes for me. But I was pretty happy with it.”

Bumgarner threw mostly fastballs, the last of which was around 92 miles per hour. He also mixed in sliders and curveballs.

“Curveball’s actually been pretty good for me,” he said. “It was just kind of the feel of the pitches. You can’t expect it to be dialed in like it will be in June, July, August, right in there. But actually it feels like it pretty much picked up right where it left off. I didn’t try to expand with it a whole lot today like we will.”

The Diamondbacks lost the game, 8-0.

“I was really happy with the way Bumgarner threw the ball,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “It seemed like it was coming out of his hand real well and he was spotting it up sure the way he wanted to. He also threw some quality secondary stuff so I was very encouraged by that.”


— After Bumgarner departed, eight different D-backs pitchers appeared in the game. Junior Guerra, Andrew Chafin and James Sherfy all pitched perfect innings. Yoan Lopez, Matt Peacock, Kevin McCanna, Miguel Aguilar and Trevor Clifton also pitched.

— Only three D-backs collected a hit, and they each had just one: Jon Jay, Stephen Vogt and Yasmany Tomas. All three were singles.

— Trevor Bauer started for the Reds. He pitched two no-hit innings and had two strikeouts.

D-backs Interviews and Segments