The Texas Rangers have agreed to a minor-league contract with former No. 1 pick Matt Bush, who spent the past three years in prison.
Bush was recently released from a 51-month sentence for DWI after a March 2012 accident in which he hit a motorcyclist, who was seriously injured. In his final nine months of incarceration, Bush was on a work-release program that enabled him to begin baseball training. He said Friday that he has been sober since the incident.
The San Diego Padres selected Bush, a San Diego native, first overall out of high school in 2004 as a shortstop. He would later convert into a pitcher, and was last slated to begin the 2012 season with the Triple-A Durham Bulls in the Rays organization before his DWI. According to the Dallas Morning News, Bush was throwing around 95 mph when the Rangers sent scouts to watch him earlier this year.
“My initial response when I heard that he was interested was one of skepticism,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News. “Given the nature of the crime and the sensitivity, I wasn’t sure. When we met him and saw how much regret he had and how he sincerely wanted to turn his life in the right direction, we were impressed.”
Daniels added that Bush will be competing to make an “upper level club” as a reliever and that his biggest expectation was simply to see Bush move his life “in the right direction.”
Bush’s career has been full of off-field problems that began shortly after he was drafted, including allegedly fighting with security guards at a bar in 2004, drunkenly assaulting a high school lacrosse player in 2009 and later assaulting a woman at a party that same year.
The 29-year-old Bush will reportedly be under “zero tolerance” protocol within the Rangers organization and be subject to Minor League Baseball’s drug and alcohol testing program. Bush no longer has a driver’s license. His father plans to accompany him to spring training and any other teams to which he is assigned.