Monday, November 12, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Former Rays pitcher Matt Bush finalizes plea deal

PUNTA GORDA — Matt Bush was once the envy of many as baseball's top overall pick in 2004, boasting plenty of potential and millions in the bank.

But with Bush's alcohol problem and several related arrests rendering him broke, and after he squandered every chance he was given to reach his big-league dreams, the former Rays pitching prospect quietly accepted the fate of his stunning fall Tuesday.

Bush, 26, pleaded no contest to driving under the influence with serious bodily injury, receiving a 51-month prison sentence that will equate to 31/2 years with time already served.

It could have been a lot worse, as the plea agreement with the state resulted in the other six charges from his March DUI hit-and-run arrest being dropped. Bush won't have any post-prison probation, but because it's his third DUI conviction in 10 years, there will be a 10-year license revocation in Florida. He has to pay $578 in court costs.

To the family of the victim, Tony Tufano, 72, who nearly died in the crash in North Port, it wasn't enough. They were disappointed Bush didn't receive probation.

"When he gets out he doesn't have to account to anybody," said Shannon Moore, Tufano's daughter-in-law. "He's already done this, what, three times? So, we're not too confident that he's not going to do it again."

Bush didn't have a license, or own a car, on March 22 when police say the Dodge Durango he borrowed from teammate Brandon Guyer ran over Tufano's motorcycle and fled the scene. Police say Bush had a blood alcohol level of .18, more than double the legal limit.

Bush originally pleaded not guilty, saying he didn't remember seeing — or hitting — a motorcycle. But attorney Russell Kirshy said the state's investigation, which included testimony from several witnesses, convinced them there would be a conviction on at least one charge, which could have meant more prison time.

Tufano was in intensive care for a few weeks after the crash, with injuries including a collapsed lung, brain hemorrhaging and several broken bones. He's at home now, but Moore said he's not the same, a former marathoner who struggles to walk the family dogs.

Said Moore: "Tony will deal with this the rest of his life."

The state gave Bush two plea offers: three years in prison and seven years probation; or four years and no probation. Kirshy said with Bush's history of alcohol issues, the seven years probation was a "disaster waiting to happen."

"The wakeup call should have happened so long ago, that anybody who is looking at this from the outside, says, 'Dude, seriously?' " Kirshy said. "But for him, certainly it's a wakeup call. I think the nine months in jail, I think being in Podunk, USA, and being held on a million dollar bond, I think that horrified him. Then getting $440,000 bond, then prison sentence. I don't think this turned out nearly like all the other cases that he's had."

Bush, who signed a minor-league deal with the Rays in 2010, had said and done all the right things until his arrest, moving his way up to Double-A Montgomery. But soon after the arrest, Bush was put on the restricted list, and he was released by Tampa Bay in October. Kirshy said he has not heard from anyone in the organization.

The Tufano family has filed a $5 million civil suit against Bush and Guyer. While the Rays aren't named in the lawsuit, Moore believes they bear some responsibility.

Said Moore: "He wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the Rays, so I think the family is a little upset with the Rays, knowing Matt Bush's history, all the DUIs, why would they bring him to this area?"

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Rays Joey Wendle fourth in AL rookie voting

Rays Joey Wendle fourth in AL rookie voting

Rays INF Joey Wendle finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.Angels pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani was the relatively easy winner, despite being limited to 92 games due to injury, getting 25 of the 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseb...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Kevin Cash has a case for AL Manager of the Year award

Rays Kevin Cash has a case for AL Manager of the Year award

ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays have already shown their appreciation for the job Kevin Cash did in managing them through roster renovation, injuries and strategic innovation to win 90 games by rewarding him with a contract extension through 2024.Tue...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Could Rays add a few more wins this week?

Could Rays add a few more wins this week?

Baseball's biggest award week gets underway Monday, with the four major BBWAA honors presented on consecutive nights.Rays fans will be most interested Tuesday, with Kevin Cash a finalist for AL Manager of the Year honors, and Wednesday, with Blake Sn...
Published: 11/11/18
Rays tales: Why Mike Zunino is a perfect fit for Tampa Bay

Rays tales: Why Mike Zunino is a perfect fit for Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG —There are a number of statistical reasons why Mike Zunino is a logical addition for the Rays.His 34.6 caught stealing rate ranked among the AL leaders, as did his .998 fielding percentage. He was tied for first with 12 defensive...
Published: 11/10/18
What insiders say about new Rays C Mike Zunino

What insiders say about new Rays C Mike Zunino

Seattle Times beat writer Ryan Divish took to his @RyanDivish Twitter account to post some interesting thoughts on C Mike Zunino, who was traded from the Mariners to the Rays on Thursday in a five-player deal also featuring OF Mallex Smith. Divish ha...
Published: 11/09/18
What getting Mike Zunino, dealing Mallex Smith deal means to Rays

What getting Mike Zunino, dealing Mallex Smith deal means to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — It all started, Rays general manager Erik Neander said to beat everyone else to it, "with the bromance, as you know.''He was having fun, but the funny thing is he was right, too. All those talks Neander and Mariners counterpart...
Published: 11/08/18
Rays get their catcher, acquiring Mike Zunino from Mariners for Mallex Smith in 5-player deal

Rays get their catcher, acquiring Mike Zunino from Mariners for Mallex Smith in 5-player deal

UPDATE, 2:50: Neander said Zunino checks so many boxes in what they value in a catcher as well as a teammate, and they are okay with offensive profile he has shown, obviously hoping for the high end. Also, that they view Heredia as a "top of the line...
Published: 11/08/18
5 things about the Raysí Mike Zunino-Mallex Smith deal

5 things about the Raysí Mike Zunino-Mallex Smith deal

Five things about the trade between the Rays and Mariners agreed to late Wednesday, with the Rays getting C Mike Zunino, OF Guillermo Heredia and 2008 draftee LHP Michael Plassmeyer, and the Mariners getting OF Mallex Smith and OF prospect Jake Frale...
Published: 11/08/18
Rays completing deal to get C Mike Zunino for OF Mallex Smith

Rays completing deal to get C Mike Zunino for OF Mallex Smith

UPDATE, 12:34 AM: The deal has been agreed to and barring any unexpected issues with final details or medical reports is likely to be announced  on Thursday.UPDATE, 12:20 AM: The basic framework of the deal is Zunino and Heredia for Smith, but t...
Published: 11/07/18
Updated: 11/08/18
Chaim Bloom: Looking forward to get Rays back to playoffs

Chaim Bloom: Looking forward to get Rays back to playoffs

After interviews that led to serious consideration for the top jobs with the Mets and Giants, senior vice president Chaim Bloom is set to stay with the Rays, at least for now.Bloom, 35, was a finalist for the Giants' head of baseball operations job t...
Published: 11/07/18