Tigers will watch Matt Albers throw next week

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Detroit’s bullpen posted a combined 4.29 ERA during the 2014 regular season, ranking 27th in the major leagues. Offseason additions Tom Gorzelanny and Alex Wilson should help turn that around a little in 2015, and so should the return of fire-baller Bruce Rondon. But some depth would be nice.

Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Tigers have RSVP’d to watch free agent right-hander Matt Albers pitch in front of interested teams February 10 (next Tuesday) in the Houston area.

Albers was limited to eight appearances last season with the Astros due to a shoulder injury, but the 32-year-old is feeling healthier now and will try to show teams that he can again be a useful bullpen piece. Albers posted a 2.77 ERA in 123 1/3 innings for the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Indians between 2012-2013.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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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.”