Second baseman Dan Uggla has had a pretty good spring with the Nationals, batting .270 with two doubles, two home runs, and six RBI in 37 at-bats. He also has a .426 on-base percentage with a .486 slugging percentage. Due to his poor performance over the last few years with the Braves (and in four games with the Giants last year), he can’t be counted on as a regular player, so if he makes the Nationals’ 25-man roster, it will be as a bench player.
That’s a role Uggla admits he wouldn’t feel comfortable in, Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington reports:
“I’d have to say no,” [Uggla] said. “I’ve never done it before. It’s not where I feel like I’m at in my career. That’s not what I’m looking to do.”
The Nationals signed Uggla to a minor league deal in late December. He compiled a disastrous .442 OPS in 145 plate appearances with the Braves and 12 with the Giants last season and has been a significantly below-average defender at second base throughout most of his career.
Yunel Escobar is slated to serve as the Nationals’ everyday second baseman. They also have Danny Espinosa and Kevin Frandsen capable of filling in at the position as well.
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.”