SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Former top pick Matt Bush pitched two hitless innings, his latest step for Texas since spending more than three years in prison, and the Rangers beat the Chicago Cubs 5-0 Wednesday.
Bush was the No. 1 overall choice in the 2004 draft by San Diego as a shortstop and never made it above Double-A. In 2012, he was sentenced after pleading no-contest to driving under the influence with serious bodily injury to a motorcyclist.
The 30-year-old Bush was released from prison last October. The Rangers signed him to a minor league contract on Dec. 18, and he's been working with minor leaguers this spring.
Bush's fastball was clocked from 95-97 mph and nine of his first 10 pitches were strikes. He struck out two and walked one.
''It was very exciting,'' Bush said. ''I had thought about it. It's been a long time since I've been in a major league spring training game. I was just happy to have the opportunity again. .just staying the course and keeping my head straight, so I don't have to go through the things I used to. It's day-by-day. There are things I have to take care of each day. I just follow through with that.''
Bush started pitching in the minors in 2007. He last pitched in a minor league game in 2011 with Tampa Bay's Double-A affiliate.
''I've always been gifted and blessed with a strong arm,'' Bush said. ''It's a lot of fun for me seeing some of those big hitters swing and miss.''
If Bush continues to pitch like he did against the Cubs, he could be in the majors before the season ends.
''I wonder what it would be like to throw in a regular season game,'' Bush said.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Bush's performance was ''very impressive.''
''It's as good as stuff as we've seen in camp, not only on our side but both sides,'' Banister said. ''I'm just telling you what I saw, a 97 mile per hour fastball at the knees, both sides of the plate, a plus breaking ball. He's going to make it hard to hit. It was fun to watch. He knows how far he's come.''
Ian Desmond tripled in a run, scored a run and recorded two outfield assists, but said the story was Bush.
''That was really special, what a story,'' Desmond said. ''He's obviously backed himself into some tough situations. It's kind of the strong survive. I'm happy for him. I told him when he was running in, `have some fun, man. You earned it.' He's throwing a 97 mile per hour fastball, backed up by a 79 mile per hour curveball. That's quite the differential. That plays anywhere.''
''I know people are going to say what they want to say, but we all get grace in our lives. I hope this time it works out for him. I'm pulling for him. Coming from the same draft, we all have that bound with guys we get drafted with. I've been following his career and rooting for him to bounce back. It's good to see he's making steps in the right direction,'' he said.
Rangers starter Derek Holland struck out seven in five scoreless innings, allowing four hits.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks yielded a leadoff single to Hanser Alberto and then struck out the next four hitters. He allowed two runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out five. ''I'm trying to get into that (regular season) mindset,'' he said. ''I'm trying to almost take these starts as if they are in the season because I'm somewhat of a slow starter and I'm trying to get real starts under my belt per se. Today I was just trying to have that thought. Overall, I'm happy about it.''
Rangers: Holland threw 45 strikes in 61 pitches and then threw another 20 in the bullpen. ''I threw only one changeup, but overall I used everything else and felt very happy with that,'' Holland said.
STARS IN THE HOUSE
Several members of the Dallas Stars, who clinched a NHL playoff berth with a Tuesday victory, attended the game. The Stars will play the Coyotes Thursday in Glendale.
Rangers 2B Pedro Ciriaco had two hits, raising his average to .500, and has hit safely of 11 of 12. Cubs 2B Munenori Kawasaki singled in the third and has reached base in 12 straight games via hit or walk.
Cubs: OF Shane Victorino (calf injury) has been out since March 8.
Rangers: OF Delino DeShields, who left the Tuesday game with right biceps tendinitis, did not play.
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner, will start against the Giants, who will counter with LHP Madison Bumgarner.
Rangers: RHP Chi Gonzalez will start against the Reds at Surprise in the afternoon, while RHP A.J. Griffin will start in a night game against the Athletics at Mesa.