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Athletics still see Bruce Maxwell as the starting catcher

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Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell has made a lot of headlines lately, both for good reasons and for bad reasons. The good: In September, he became the first Major League Baseball player to protest police violence against people of color by kneeling for the national anthem. The bad: Allegedly, Maxwell was inebriated and pulled a gun on a food delivery person last month.

The Athletics still see Maxwell as the club’s starting catcher, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported recently. Maxwell pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court on December 28 for a pretrial hearing.

GM David Forst said, “I don’t want to talk about the off-field stuff right now. We’ll let the criminal proceedings play out. But from a baseball standpoint, I expect Bruce to be our catcher next year.”

Maxwell, 26, hit .237/.329/.333 with three home runs, 22 RBI, and 21 runs scored in 253 plate appearances last season. He got the majority of starts behind the plate once the Brewers claimed Stephen Vogt off waivers from the A’s in late June.

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.”