Blue Jays rookie phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. survived a scary moment during Friday’s opener against the Astros. He stepped up to the plate against Houston’s Gerrit Cole in the first inning, but saw just one pitch from the righty before he was drilled in the hand with a 96.3-m.p.h. fastball.
Following a consultation with a team trainer, Guerrero returned to take his post at third base in the bottom of the inning. He then made his exit in the bottom of the second and underwent further evaluation while Eric Sogard subbed in at the hot corner.
While reports returned negative for any fracture in Guerrero’s hand — a definite relief given the potential devastation such news would carry — he’ll likely be day-to-day for the time being. The 20-year-old infielder entered Friday’s game batting a hearty .268/.329/.463 with seven home runs, 16 RBI, and 0.3 fWAR through 164 plate appearances so far in 2019.
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.”