SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Madison Bumgarner reveal that stunned the public did not exactly make the Giants buck.
The Athletic’s uncovering of Mason Saunders, the stage name of the former Giants star pitcher who would enter — and sometimes win — team-roping competitions, landed mostly with a thud to San Francisco veterans who have known about Bumgarner’s other love for years.
Although, no one seemed to know about the alias.
“Went one time, but he didn’t ride. It was his brother-in-law that was riding,” Buster Posey said Monday, before the Giants faced off against Bumgarner’s Diamondbacks at Scottsdale Stadium.
Brandon Belt, who also didn’t know about the moniker, wondered why Bumgarner hadn’t simply denied the story to try to preserve his other identity. Pablo Sandoval said he had no idea not just about Mason Saunders, but the story’s existence. Evan Longoria, though, had noticed the “cowboy outfits” Bumgarner would change into after last year’s spring training workouts.
“I don’t think it was a secret,” Longoria said of the rodeos. “I always liked talking to Bum about it because it’s an interesting part about him. It is who he is. He’s never been a guy that’s shied away from doing what he wants to do. I would always talk to him about competitions and what he did.”
As Bumgarner was leaving the team facilities, he would wear “a collared shirt, those shirts you see guys wear in the competition. That has like a logo, PBR, or something like that on there and a big competition belt.”
The fallout of the story — whether Bumgarner’s contract with the D-Backs allows him to competitively lasso cattle — is still coming. But the fact that the 30-year-old was risking his limbs in an offseason that would soon land him $85 million would be stunning — to those don’t know him better.
Posey shrugged and said he wasn’t surprised. Longoria went a step further, saying Bumgarner’s willingness to always be himself is what makes him unique.
“After the dirt bike, nothing surprises me,” said Longoria, referring to the 2017 crash that injured his shoulder. “That’s why some people, some media, might not like him. But that’s just who Madison is.”