Bush has impressed Maddon, Rays

Bush has impressed Maddon, Rays

Bush has impressed Maddon, Rays
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Matt Bush pitched another scoreless inning of relief on Thursday against the Red Sox, further endearing the No. 1 pick of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft to the Rays.

The 24-year-old right-hander pitched 13 2/3 innings last season, which represented the first official innings he's pitched since 2007. Though he was reassigned to Minor League camp on Friday, Bush clearly has made an impression with his arm.

"[Bush has] good stuff," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's got great little carry on his fastball. He's got really good spin and the ball comes out of his hand hot and it carries low, and that's a nice thing to have. He's got a very, very, very good curveball. An interesting fellow -- if we can keep him well and get him pitching with some kind of regularity, he can be very good."

Bush was converted from shortstop to pitcher midway through the 2007 season, and the transition has been ongoing since then, including having to overcome Tommy John surgery to his right elbow.

In some respects, the transition to pitching has come naturally to Bush.

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"I pitched just as much as I played a position [growing up]," Bush said. "It just worked out that I could play a position, play shortstop, and if that didn't work out, I had a chance to be a pitcher. So it kind of helped things with me, as far as getting drafted."

Nevertheless, moving back to the mound at such a high level of baseball, and after such a long period of time, presented quite a challenge to the native of San Diego.

"I had to ask a lot of questions," Bush said. "And more than anything, just to be able to get out there and work on some things. I had to go through Tommy John surgery, so I had to realize I can't throw the ball at 100 percent all the time. When I do that, the ball is more flat and stays up more."

Primarily, Bush said, he has been working on keeping the ball down and on the location of his pitches.

"I understand that, no matter how hard I throw, depending on where it's at is going to be the best thing for me," Bush said. "So I'm mostly just working on hitting corners, mixing it up a little bit."

Bush said going through the surgery helped out his mechanics and that he is comfortable on the mound. The Rays feel that the bullpen is his ultimate destination, and Bush agrees with that assessment.

"I don't see myself working up too big of a pitch count, especially with my injuries," Bush said. "I just think I could help the team out most being a bullpen guy. The team's really deep with starting pitchers. That's not a need. And I think with my stuff, it would be best to come out of the bullpen."