Tampa Bay Rays
Bail set for Rays' Matt Bush at $1.015 million
PUNTA GORDA - Charlotte Circuit Judge Nicholas Thompson set bail for Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher Matt Bush at $1.015 million Saturday morning for the seven charges he faces after a DUI hit-and-run with bodily injury late Thursday afternoon in Port Charlotte. His arraignment is scheduled for May 21. Bush's attorney, Russell T. Kirshy of Port Charlotte, told Judge Thompson the Rays were trying to make arrangements for Bush to undergo a 72-hour hospital stay then enter a rehabilitation program in the Tampa Bay area and requested Bush be allowed to follow that route. The request was denied."That's all we've been talking about since the moment I met him is where is he going to go to rehab?" Kirshy said. "Obviously, there's only one place he can from a situation like this and that is to go to rehab." That plan is on hold while Bush remains in the Charlotte County Jail. Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is expected to address Bush's situation today. Bush had his first court appearance Saturday morning, appearing on closed-circuit TV from the Charlotte County Jail in court room 3C in the Charlotte County Justice Center, located in Punta Gorda along the banks of the Peace River. Kirshy pushed for a smaller bond, arguing Bush qualifies as being indigent because he made $78,000 last season while pitching on the Rays' Double-A team in Montgomery and that he has only $2,000 in his bank account. "I do not expect him to post the bond that has been set," Kirshy said. "And, yes, I expected there would be spirited argument about the bond and I expected the judge to set a high bond." According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, Bush was driving a Dodge Durango SUV along U.S. 41 in Port Charlotte on Thursday afternoon when he struck the back of a motorcycle driven by Tony Tufano, 72, of Port Charlotte. Bush fled the scene and was arrested less than 30 minutes later in nearby North Port. "Matt did not have a car," Bush's agent Jonathon Weisz said. "Matt had not driven, to my knowledge, in a few years. I was very surprised to learn he was driving, that he had borrowed a car." Bush was charged with two counts of leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage, a second degree felony; two counts of DUI with property damage, a first degree misdemeanor; one count of failure to stop and remain at a crash involving an injury, a third degree felony; one count of driving with a suspended license, a third degree felony, and one count of DUI with serious bodily injury to another, a third degree felony. Bush, who has a suspended license, was driving a borrowed vehicle. "He definitely understands the gravity of what's happened," Weisz said. "He understands that he has a lot of life issues that he's facing now." Tufano remains in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers with multiple injuries, according to daughter in-law Shannon Moore, who added Tufano was put on a ventilator Saturday to aid his breathing. Kirshy first met Bush on Friday and said his client is "very subdued, very worried, very introspective." Concerning Tufano, Kirshy said, "The victim and the victim's family, my heart goes out to them; I know that Mr. Bush's heart goes out to them. Any time someone is injured in a serious accident we feel terrible for them and we're praying for them."