Reclamation Project Impresses in Two Innings | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Reclamation Project Impresses in Two Innings

Matt Bush has had a long road in life since he was baseball's No. 1 pick

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    Matt Bush poses for a portrait during the San Diego Padres Photo Day at Peoria Stadium on February 26, 2006 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Five years after the Tampa Bay Rays selected Josh Hamilton first overall in the draft, only to see him fall into a tangled web of drugs and alcohol, be suspended from baseball and resurface years later as an AL MVP, the San Diego Padres selected a similarly troubled player first overall in the 2004 draft.

    That player was Matt Bush, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher from a local San Diego high school. He was suspended before ever playing a professional game for fighting in a club.

    Things got worse for Bush when, in 2012, he borrowed a teammate's truck at spring training, got drunk and drove into a motorcylist, nearly killing him.

    He spent 3 1/2 years in prison. Now, he's in minor-league camp with the Rangers and trying to make it back in baseball.

    On Wednesday, he got a chance to face big-league hitters for the first time this spring, and the results were pretty staggering.

    Bush worked two scoreless innings against the World Series favorite Cubs, saw his fastball consistently hit 96 mph and top out at 97 and fanned Jorge Soler on a nasty 79-mph breaking ball. His stuff showed it'd play at any level — in B games on the backfields or at Globe Life Park.

    "Very exciting," Bush told ESPN.com after the game. "I had thought about it. It's been a long time since I've been in a major league spring training and was just happy to have that opportunity again. I was excited all day today. It came up pretty fast, but once I got out there I felt comfortable."

    "As good as stuff as we've seen in camp," Rangers manager Jeff Banister added. "Explosive fastball, kept it down to both sides of the plate, breaking ball at the knees."

    It's a redemption story, and one that will be hard for some people to swallow given that a guy who made an awful mistake is being given a second chance at making millions, but he showed on Wednesday this is much more than just throwing a hard-working guy a bone.

    He has a lot to offer if he can keep his life straight.