Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Former Ray Matt Bush expected to take plea deal in DUI hit-and-run case

For almost nine months, former Rays minor-league pitcher Matt Bush has been in a Charlotte County jail, awaiting resolution of the DUI hit-and-run arrest that derailed his big-league dreams.

That closure finally comes next week, when Bush, 26, will agree to a plea deal that will involve a prison sentence of at least three more years, his father, Daniel, told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

Bush's attorney, Russell Kirshy, declined to offer specifics on the agreement, at least until Tuesday's scheduled court hearing in Punta Gorda. But Daniel Bush said that even with time served and good behavior, his son will spend close to the rest of his 20s in prison.

"He's taking it pretty good," Daniel said. "He's not crying or sulking. He's preparing for it. Everybody in our family is backing him up."

Bush, the No. 1 overall draft pick as a shortstop by the Padres in 2004, was arrested March 22 in North Port, about 10 miles northwest of Port Charlotte, the spring training home of the Rays. Police said Bush had hit the motorcycle of 72-year-old Tony Tufano and fled the scene. When a search that included deputies and a helicopter found Bush, he told police he didn't remember seeing or hitting a motorcycle.

Police said Bush had a blood-alcohol percentage of 0.18, more than double the level at which Florida considers a driver impaired. Two days later, Bush pleaded not guilty to the seven charges, including DUI with serious injury, but was held on $440,000 bond.

Tufano was in intensive care at a Fort Myers hospital for a few weeks with broken bones in his back, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and brain hemorrhaging. He is home now, though daughter-in-law Shannon Moore has said he's not the same, still dealing with physical issues. The Tufano family has filed a $5 million civil lawsuit against Bush and Rays minor-league outfielder Brandon Guyer, who owned the Dodge Durango that Bush was driving.

Bush, who signed a minor-league deal with the Rays in 2010, was put on the restricted list after his arrest and released from the team in October. The State Attorney's Office offered the undisclosed plea deal a couple of months ago, with the defense waiting to receive all the evidence before deciding.

"It's a bad situation," Daniel Bush said. "But you've got to make the best of it. Life goes on."

RAYS TRADE: The Rays added to their position-player depth in the minors by acquiring Triple-A infielder Vince Belnome from the Padres for Double-A left-handed pitcher Chris Rearick. Belnome, 24, a left-handed hitter who has played first, second and third, is a career .300 hitter over four minor-league seasons, including .275 with five homers and 33 RBIs in 80 games for Triple-A Tucson last season. Rearick, 25, has been named the best relief pitcher in the Rays' minor-league system each of the past two seasons. He went 4-4 with 22 saves and a 2.70 ERA in 50 appearances between Class A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery last season.

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