The Texas Rangers have called up former prospect Matt Bush after being released from prison in October. The Texas Rangers were expected to call up the right-handed reliever Matt Bush on Friday, making him available for his major league debut 12 years after he was the No. 1 overall draft pick before spending 3 1/2 years in prison for a drunken-driving accident in Florida that left a man seriously injured.
The 30-year-old signed with the Rangers on a minor league deal in December after being released from prison in October. He made two appearances in spring training and impressed his coaches with his array of pitches, including a fastball of nearly 100 mph.
The Rangers said they were buying his contract from Double-A Frisco and would make a corresponding roster move.
Last December, Bush said he had been sober since the March 2012 accident after years of alcohol issues. At the time, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Bush would be accompanied throughout spring training and beyond by his father. Bush was expected to continue in an Alcoholic Anonymous program among other requirements, including community service.
Bush was drafted No. 1 as a shortstop by his hometown San Diego Padres in 2004, just ahead of Justin Verlander. He had several alcohol-related incidents and was traded five years later to Toronto. After being released by the Blue Jays, he signed a minor league deal as a pitcher with Tampa Bay.
Bush went to prison after a no contest plea in Charlotte County in Florida for a DUI with serious bodily injury. Authorities said Bush’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he hit a 72-year-old man on a motorcycle in March 2012 and left the scene. There was no probation for Bush, whose sentence ended with a nine-month work release program.
Before this spring, he last played in the minors in 2011.
The Rangers took a look at Bush on a recommendation from Roy Silver, a player development assistant for the team who has helped others come back from troubled pasts. Silver had a big impact on slugger Josh Hamilton, the former No. 1 overall pick who was out of baseball for more than three years because of cocaine and alcohol addictions. Hamilton is back with the Rangers and is currently on the 60-day disabled list as he continues rehabilitation work following off-season surgery on his left knee.