Every team has former players whose name elicits visceral reactions when that player is named (just say “Carl Pavano” to a Yankees fan for the fun of seeing his/her face turn various colors). For us Rays fans, it’s mostly players whose personal lives have made us embarrassed they were ever on “our” team. We understood why they were signed–personal baggage means low cost contract, but we don’t like it.
One of those names has been Matt Bush. This AM, I saw a small entry in the Dallas Morning News–Matt Bush struck out 6 in 2 innings to earn his third save of the season for the AA Frisco RoughRiders, a Rangers affiliate.(http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/texas-rangers/rangers/2016/04/27/rangers-minor-league-report-matt-bush-strikes-six-two-innings-pedro-payano-throws-one-hitter). My first reaction was to question if it was the same guy, but a quick Google search showed it was. The second reaction was, of course, that it’s hard to do better than striking out six guys in two innings. It seems that some Texas Rangers scout found him in a restaurant parking lot where he was working while staying in a halfway house after his prison release late last year, and the organization’s FO decided to take a chance on him since he still has a high 90’s heater.
Just a quick recap on his career to date, in case you’ve forgotten… He was the first pick of the 2004 draft by the Padres. He got suspended before ever playing a game after a fight outside an AZ bar. After that he toiled in obscurity and deal twith injuries in the Padres’ farm system. At one point he committed a drunken assault on a high schooler that was caught on film. In Feb 2009, he was sent to the Blue Jays. In Mar 2009, he got drunk and threw a ball at a woman’s head. The Jays ditched him, and he signed with the Rays. He worked his way up to AAA Durham, the highest level at which he’s played. Then, on Mar 22, 2012, he borrowed teammate Brandon Guyer’s SUV, got drunk, hit a 72-year-old motorcyclist, ran over his head (he lived), and fled the scene. He got 51 months for that…and served that term until his release this past fall/winter.
That same Google search I mentioned above also uncovered an extensive write up this month by ESPN about him. (http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/15147918/the-story-texas-rangers-prospect-matt-bush-rediscovery-unlikely-comeback). He has apparently stayed sober since 2012.
The Rangers certainly have experience in trying to help addicts/alcoholics try to turn their careers around. The ESPN article makes it sound like he’s got a good support system in place. It’ll be quite a story if he does get to the big leagues finally, but the far more important part will be staying on the right path to have a productive and sober life in or out of baseball. I sincerely wish him good luck.