Matt Bush is a former first-round draft pick, and as you'd expect from a top ranked prospect, he oozes baseball talent. He was drafted as a shortstop, but after being unable to hit at a competitive level, he's turned into a flame-throwing left-handed reliever that had the potential to help the Tampa Bay Rays' bullpen this season.
But Matt Bush also has a dark side: he's an alcoholic, and he's notably struggled with his drinking for a number of years. It had looked like he had finally reclaimed his career in Tampa Bay, but then, this happened:
Such a catastrophe happened Thursday night when Bush was arrested for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. Bush was driving an SUV that allegedly struck a motorcycle driven by a 72-year-old man near Tampa Bay's spring training home in Port Charlotte, Fla. Bush reportedly fled the site of the crash that left Anthony Tufano in serious condition. Bush's blood alcohol level was measured at .180, more than twice the legal limit. (Big League Stew)
Bush had been open about his alcoholism in recent years, and he's talked about the steps he's taken to keep himself on the right path. He's impressed people that have met him recently with his maturity and candidness, and it had sounded like he was doing the necessary things to get his career back in order:
"I'm right on the doorstep," Bush said. "It's taken awhile, but I'm 26 now. I'm mature. I feel like a man, and I feel I can handle myself and know how to go about things. Today, I'm happy with myself and I'm content with life and I can go from there. I don't have to be the main guy in the spotlight. I don't have to be the best player or the biggest prospect. I'm just happy to be here. I just want to keep a job, really." (Big League Stew)
After this incident, though, it seems likely that Bush will be out of a job. Even if the Rays were to give him another chance, Bush will face charges for his action and could face a significant sentence. He may have finally worked his way out of baseball, and without that support cushion, it's difficult to see where his life may go. In this economy, it's not exactly easy for a person with a drinking problem and without a college education to get a high paying job.
No matter what happens to Bush, here's hoping he's able to finally master his alcoholism and successfully reclaim his life. It's not an easy disease to fight -- just ask Josh Hamilton -- and it can lead to some horrible, saddening incidents, like this one. Fight on, Matt.