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Troubled former Rays prospect Matt Bush signs with Rangers

18

December

Troubled former Rays prospect RHP Matt Bush has been given yet another chance in baseball after being signed by the Rangers to a minor-league deal.

Bush, 29, was released Oct. 30 from prison, having been incarcerated since the spring of 2012, mostly at the Hamilton Correctional Institution in Jasper, as the result of a no contest plea deal he made for DUI with serious bodily injury after being arrested during spring training in Port Charlotte following a near-fatal accident.

At the time of Bush's release, agent Jonathan Weisz told the Times that making a baseball comeback was not at "forefront of (Bush's) mind.''

Bush, the No. 1 overall pick in 2004 (ahead of Justin Verlander), has had a series of mis-steps as reported in the Times, sparked by alcohol issues and several related arrests that ended his tenures with the Padres and Blue Jays.

Bush last played professional baseball in 2012, when the Rays signed him to a minor league deal with an invite to camp and was pitching well, until the incident.

Authorities say Bush's blood alcohol level was 0.18 percent - more than twice the limit at which a driver is presumed impaired - when he hit 72-year-old Tony Tufano's motorcycle and left the scene. Tufano nearly died, and his family filed a $5-million civil lawsuit against Bush and Rays OF  Brandon Guyer, whose truck Bush used in the accident, which was settled in May 2013 for what was believed to be $400,000. Here is more from the Times' Joe Smith.

Here is a story on the signing by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:

The Rangers are trying to resurrect the career of a failed No. 1 overall draft pick who last played with the Tampa Bay organization.

And, no, it is not Josh Hamilton.

Fresh off spending nearly three years in prison for his involvement in a DWI incident that resulted in serious injuries to a motorcyclist, right-handed pitcher Matt Bush will join the club on a minor league contract that does not include an invitation to major league spring training. 

Bush had been serving a 51-month sentence for DWI with great bodily harm for a March 2012 accident in Port Charlotte, Fla., with motorcyclist Tommy Tufano. Bush pleaded no contest to the charges. He had been on a work-release program during his final nine months of incarceration, during which he ramped up his baseball training. He approached clubs about resuming his career within the last two months.

There is much detail about his history in this story by Gabe Kapler, who was working for FOX Sports at the time.

Rangers player development assistant Roy Silver, who was instrumental in getting Hamilton back to a place where he could resume his baseball career after several years of alcohol and drug-related issues, had a prior relationship with Bush. The Rangers sent scouts to watch Bush throw in Florida. He later threw in front of members of the Rangers' front office in Arlington after his release. Daniels said Bush had reached "in the range" of 95 mph.

"My initial response when I heard that he was interested was one of skepticism," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Given the nature of the crime and the sensitivity, I wasn't sure. When we met him and saw how much regret he had and how he sincerely wanted to turn his life in the right direction, we were impressed."

Bush, then a shortstop, was the first overall pick in the draft in 2004 by his hometown team, the San Diego Padres. But within weeks of signing a deal that included a $3.15 million bonus, he was arrested in Arizona after allegedly fighting with security guards who were trying to escort him out of a bar.  He had a litany of other issues and was later traded to Toronto and eventually wound up in the Tampa Bay organization. 

Bush, now 29, will be subject to Minor League Baseball's drug and alcohol testing program and will operate under a "zero tolerance" standard in the Rangers organization. He currently is part of a 12-step program and will continue that. He does not have a driver's license. His father, Danny, will accompany him to spring training in February and to wherever he is assigned, if he makes a minor league club. Major League Baseball raised no other issues with the signing.

"I don't know if I have expectations for this this," Daniels said. "My biggest expectations would be off the field to see him take things to the next step and keep moving his life in the right direction. Anything beyond that is a bonus for us. He'll be in competition to make an upper level club as a late-inning reliever and we will go from there."

Said Bush: "I think my future is as bright as I can make it. I wake up each day in a positive state of mind. Now, I've got a pretty cut-and-dried approach to things. I want to be part of the game. I want to be a role model. I want to make the most of this opportunity."

 

[Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2015 6:24pm]

    

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