Mets lose lefty reliever Tim Byrdak to knee surgery

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UPDATE: General manager Sandy Alderson expects Byrdak to be ready for game action in about six weeks, which could mean a late-April debut.

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Scott Hairston’s oblique injury means the Mets may look to a converted left-handed pitcher to serve as their backup center fielder and now Tim Byrdak’s knee injury means they’re in need of an actual left-handed pitcher for the bullpen.

Byrdak is scheduled to undergo knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which at the very least will keep him sidelined beyond Opening Day.

Byrdak signed a one-year, $1 million extension with the Mets in September and was slated to be their left-handed specialist after throwing 38 innings with a 3.82 ERA and 47/19 K/BB ratio last season. At age 38 how well he’ll come back from knee surgery is unclear, but Byrdak has quietly posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each season since 2007 and held lefties to a .222 batting average in 2011.

Madison Bumgarner apparently hunts bears, too

Madison Bumgarner
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We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).

Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.

On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”

As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.