Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Pirates’ Gregory Polanco, Antonio Bastardo, and Starling Marte saved a bird during batting practice

9 Comments

Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a heartwarming story that occurred during batting practice at PNC Park before the Pirates hosted the Reds on Wednesday evening.

As Nesbitt tells it, first baseman Josh Bell hit a bird with a batted ball in batting practice. Reliever Antonio Bastardo said the bird was “disorientated,” so he and outfielder Gregory Polanco helped it before it could potentially get hurt any more. Outfielder Starling Marte came over and petted it while calling for the team trainer.

Update: Pictures!

Luckily for that bird, it appears to have had a better fate with the Pirates than a pigeon had flying in front of Randy Johnson during a spring training game in 2001.

[mlbvideo id=”37110137″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Madison Bumgarner apparently hunts bears, too

Madison Bumgarner
Getty Images
3 Comments

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.