Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage was interviewed on 93.7 radio in Pittsburgh and indicated that he expects free agent A.J. Burnett to retire, saying:
I’m on that percentage point where he’s not going to come back. Right now I’m leaning that way, where he’s going to retire.
Burnett was one of the best pitchers in the National League last season, throwing 191 innings with a 3.50 ERA and 209 strikeouts at age 37, but he’s dropped some pretty strong hints about retirement all offseason and is apparently willing to pass up a big payday to call it a career.
That would be a tough blow to Pittsburgh’s rotation, which already has a big health-related question mark in Wandy Rodriguez and is hoping to turn around Edinson Volquez’s career. Of course, with a front two of Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole the Pirates are still in pretty decent shape.
The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.
Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.
As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.
Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.
The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”