Matt Bush, the first overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft, is getting a chance from the Texas Rangers to make his major league debut after previous bids ended amid assault accusations and a four-year prison sentence for driving drunk and hitting a motorcyclist in 2012.

TR Sullivan of first reported word of the potential promotion, and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports confirmed the roster move.

The San Diego Padres made Bush, then a shortstop with highly intriguing potential, the top selection in a 2004 draft class that also featured starting pitchers Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver and Homer Bailey, along with slugger Billy Butler.

In February 2009, the Padres traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays after he allegedly assaulted a pair of San Diego-area high school lacrosse players, according to Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Less than two months later, the Blue Jays released him after he allegedly threw a baseball past a woman’s head at a party, per Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

He signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in January 2010 and spent two seasons with the organization without incident. However, during 2012 spring training, Bush was involved in a drunken driving hit-and-run accident in which he hit the motorcycle of a 72-year-old, causing the Rays to place him on the restricted list and ultimately release him. 

In December 2012, he was sentenced to four years and three months in prison after pleading no contest to driving under the influence with serious bodily injury. The plea agreement allowed six other charges to be dropped, but his driver’s license was suspended for 10 years.

Bush was released from prison last October. Now a relief pitcher, he signed a minor league contract with the Rangers in December.

He pitched three scoreless innings and tallied three strikeouts for Texas during spring training before being optioned to Double-A Frisco. His success continued in the minors, as he posted a 2.65 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 17 innings across 12 games for the RoughRiders.

Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News passed along comments from Rangers general manager Jon Daniels earlier this week on the Ballzy podcast about the ongoing process of helping Bush stay on the right path:

Take baseball out of it. He’s an alcoholic. There’s going to be that element to his life regardless of his occupation. He’s continuing the process day to day. We have a support network here and he has one.

Knock on wood, everything’s been very good.

Meanwhile, Sherrington asked Bush about potentially getting the call to the big club, and he said: “It’s just really going to be an extremely special moment for me.”

Don’t expect to see Bush pitching many high-leverage innings during his first go with the Rangers, however.

Although Bush has looked terrific at times during spring training and his stint in the minors, he has fewer than 90 innings of professional pitching experience. Furthermore, none of that has come above the Double-A level, and most of those innings were before he went to prison.


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