Bush returns to mound, holds Cubs hitless

In first outing in four years, Rangers right-hander hurls two innings

Matt Bush spent two years in the Rays organization before signing with the Rangers in December. (Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | March 23, 2016 8:11 PM ET

Facing the heart of the Cubs' lineup typically isn't easy, especially when a pitcher hasn't taken the mound in four years.

Pitching for the first time since 2012 due to well-documented off-the-field issues, Matt Bush worked two hitless innings and struck out two in his debut in the Rangers organization on Wednesday afternoon. 

"First of all, it was very exciting," Bush told MLB.com. "I hadn't thought about being in a Major League game, it has been a long time since I've been in a Major League Spring Training game. I have been throwing the ball well. It was just exciting to get the opportunity again."

Bush retired his first five batters before walking Munenori Kawasaki. But he closed out the seventh inning by fanning Jason Vosler.

"Pretty impressive and fun to watch," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told MLB.com. "To step back out on this stage has to be fun for him. He had an explosive fastball and a plus breaking ball. He threw strikes down in the zone. You do that, it makes it hard to hit. 

"That was as good of stuff as we've seen in camp."

Wednesday was not the first time Bush took the mound after a protracted absence. In the spring of 2009, he was about to return to the Padres from Tommy John surgery when an incident in a high school parking lot led to a trade to the Blue Jays. Toronto gave the San Diego native a second chance, but one month and another incident later, he found himself out of baseball.

In 2010, the Rays gave the former shortstop another opportunity, and the first overall pick in the 2004 Draft worked his way up to Double-A. He compiled a 4.50 and 97 strikeouts over 64 innings in 53 games, including one start, and looked to be getting back on track.

But Bush was arrested on March 22, 2012 for allegedly running over and injuring a 72-year-old motorcyclist in Florida. While serving three years in prison, he continued to work out and threw during a work-release program in 2015. He signed with the Rangers on Dec. 18.

Four years and one day since his arrest, Bush retired Kristopher Negron, Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler for a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

"I didn't expect to be throwing as hard as I was before," Bush told MLB.com. "I worked very hard, and the Rangers do a good job of getting you into shape. Getting out here early was a big factor. Just stay the course and continue to do all the things I need to do."

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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