Over a week ago, Matt Bush looked like he might provide one of the best storylines in baseball this year. Now he might be out of the game forever.
Addressing the media Sunday, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Bush will not be a factor in Tampa Bay's future plans.
"I think it's safe to say that he's not going to play for us on the field," Friedman said.
The decision came after Bush's alleged DUI and hit-and-run Thursday, when he reportedly seriously injured 72-year-old motorcyclist Anthony Tufano in Port Charlotte, Fla. Bush faces seven charges related to the incident and is being held in custody with bail set at $1.015 million.
"I think we're all very surprised and saddened by what happened, obviously. Still a little bit numb to it," Friedman told MLB.com. "Going through it, I think the fact that it's an ongoing legal situation, a criminal situation, is something that makes it tricky for us to say too much right now. I think we have a decent feel, but we're still going through collecting information."
Friedman said he had spoken to Bush before the accident about how impressive it would have been if he pitched his way to the Majors. After being selected by the Padres with the first overall pick in 2004, Bush ran into numerous personal and professional troubles that nearly cost him his career. He did not play baseball in 2008 or 2009, then signed with the Rays prior to the 2010 season.
"I think the fact that we were as surprised as we were speaks to how positive things were," Friedman told MLB.com. "But obviously we're sitting here right now, and our concern and thoughts and prayers are with the Tufano family, obviously."
Friedman said he has not talked with Bush since he was incarcerated. According to a report in the Tampa Tribune, the Rays were apparently trying to have the 26-year-old enter a hospital before starting a rehabilitation program in the Tampa area.
"There's so many different parts to this. It was not knowing how the bond proceeding would go or work. It was much more about, if he was released, what are the next steps?" Friedman told MLB.com. "Instead of him being out and whatever would take place from there, it was, 'What do you do if that happens?' That was our attempt in talking to our EAP program director about what would happen if he does get out. What's the right protocol? What's the right thing to do?"
When informed that the Tufano family reportedly blamed the Rays for the accident, Friedman told MLB.com. it wasn't "productive right now to get into mud slinging. Our primary concern is with their family."
Friedman also declined comment on reports that Bush was driving a car he had borrowed from a teammate.
"Those facts will come out as [the case] gets going," he said.
Originally drafted as a shortstop, Bush struggled to hit and was converted to a pitcher in 2007. The team invited Bush to big league camp this year, and he tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings before being sent down April 18.