SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Madison Bumgarner showed the Arizona Diamondbacks he’s more than a rodeo star.
The team’s marquee free-agent acquisition of the offseason was solid in his first spring training outing on Thursday. He retired his first five batters, including four on strikeouts, before giving up a solo homer to Derek Dietrich. He allowed one run over two innings.
Bumgarner signed an $85 million, five-year deal in the offseason as the D-backs tried to close the gap in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won seven straight division titles.
It was also the four-time All-Star’s first pitching appearance since The Athletic revealed the pitcher’s side hobby as a rodeo participant. The 30-year-old has been competing in rodeo events under the alias of Mason Saunders and won $26,560 in a team-roping competition December.
D-backs GM Mike Hazen said this week he was unaware of Bumgarner’s rodeo participation when the team signed the lefty but added that it wouldn’t have affected his decision. Manager Torey Lovullo called it a non-issue and said he wants his players to have other interests as long as they’re smart about their health.
Hazen wouldn’t comment on what the team allows the 2014 World Series MVP to do in his spare time or any specifics of the contract or guarantee language. Bumgarner looked healthy on Thursday with a fastball that was in the low 90s and a sharp breaking ball.
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