The San Diego Padres selected Matt Bush with the first overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft. He was a local boy, born and raised in San Diego, starring at shortstop and pitcher for Mission Bay. But he never got any higher than AA ball, as a string of injuries then legal problems derailed his career. He’s struggled with alcoholism his entire career, and was sentenced to just over four years in prison back in 2012 when he ran over a 72-year-old motorcyclist then fled the scene and blew a .18.
The since-converted pitcher signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers yesterday and will report to spring training in Arizona in February. Bush told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
“I didn’t really pay attention to the baseball world for a while because it was too hard for me,” said Bush, who spent most of his prison time at Hamilton Correctional Institution in Jasper, Fla. He engrossed himself in books and exercise to pass the time and eventually enjoyed playing softball behind bars. When he was able to begin a work-release program earlier this year he threw a baseball for the first time in a couple of years.
Bush lasted five years with the Padres until they traded him after he beat up some high school lacrosse players while screaming, “I’m Matt fucking Bush!” Just a few weeks into his tenure with the Blue Jays organization, he got released for assaulting a woman at a party in Florida. Bush now claims he has been sober since the DUI that landed him in prison, and he’ll live with his father and follow a strict plan from the Rangers:
“There are going to be certain areas where there can’t be any gray area,” Daniels said, which includes no alcohol and no driving. “[We’ll have] zero tolerance there.”
Legally, Bush is now clear and there is no pending suspension by MLB.
He’ll report to spring training on Feb. 1. His father, Danny, will accompany him to spring training and live with him wherever he’s assigned, which likely could be Double A Frisco.
The Rangers have had success with Josh Hamilton when he was in a similar position. Bush is, of course, a different case, but committing to players who struggle with addiction is not easy, and they have a proven record of helping them.
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