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."
San Francisco Giants
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."
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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.