Former No. 1 pick pleads guilty to assault on draft day

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With the Nationals just hours away from making Stephen Strasburg the
latest No. 1 pick, one of the biggest top-of-the-draft busts of all
time is pleading guilty today to four misdemeanor counts of battery.

Matt Bush went No. 1 overall in the 2004 draft because the Padres were
trying to save money, so they selected the local high-school star while
passing on the likes of Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Stephen
Drew. Bush was a disaster from Day 1, getting into a bar fight before
even making his pro debut and then hitting .192 at rookie-ball.

He moved up to Single-A in 2005 and hit .221/.279/.276, missed most
of 2006 with a broken ankle, hit .204/.310/.276 at Single-A in 2007,
and was then converted from shortstop to pitcher as the Padres tried to
salvage some value from the blown pick. It didn’t work, as a torn elbow
ligament put a quick end to his time on the mound.

Bush’s guilty plea today stems from what the San Diego Union-Tribune
calls a “drunken assault” on lacrosse players at his old high school,
which caused the Padres to drop him from the 40-man roster in February
to make room for Cliff Floyd. Toronto picked up Bush only to release
him six weeks later for another drunken incident involving the alleged
harassment of a woman.

And now he’s a 23-year-old with an impotent bat and blown-out elbow
facing “at least three years of probation” and a court-mandated stint
in alcohol rehab. But hey, at least the Padres saved about $900,000 in
bonus money! San Diego picks No. 3 overall tonight and will try to avoid a Bush-like disaster with Strasburg and the consensus top hitter, Dustin Ackley, likely off the board.

Odubel Herrera flips his bat on a fly ball, gets benched for lack of hustle

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Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been a polarizing figure in his young career. He’s talented and at times has shined, inspiring the Phillies to give him a long term contract this past offseason. At other times, however, he’s aggravated the snot out of his manager, his teammates and his team’s fans. Last night, in the Phillies-Astros game, he did the latter and was the subject of mockery of the opposing team to boot.

In the first inning he hit a long fly ball to center. He thought it was going out but . . . it didn’t. When the ball came off of his bat, however, he flipped his bat like he went yard. You know our view about bat flips — who cares? Flip away! — but you flip at your own risk. Just because you’re allowed to flip it whenever you want doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get mocked if you flip prematurely. That’s what Herrera did, and he was mocked for the flip by the Astros from the dugout:

If that was all that happened in the game, life would go on just fine. I mean, it’s just a bat flip. But later in the game he committed a more substantive transgression: he failed to hustle in a hustle situation.

In the sixth inning Herrera struck out swinging on a 1-2 curveball. The catcher didn’t hold on to it, though, and the ball went in the dirt. Herrera didn’t bother to run to first base and Pete Mackanin pulled Herrera from the game in a double switch right after that. Asked if Herrera was benched for not running that ball out, Mackanin said “It had something to do with it . . . I’m going to talk to him tomorrow.”

If you’re a veteran and you have hamstring issues or something you can take a dropped strike three off and no one is gonna say anything. If you’re hitting like Herrera has been hitting of late (i.e. pretty well) and you otherwise have no issues with your manager along these lines, it’s doubtful anyone will hold that sort of play against you either as long as it’s an isolated incident.

Herrera is not in that position, however. He’s raised Mackanin’s ire in the past for ignoring signs and taking what Mackanin believed to be a lackadaisical approach to the game. Whether that’s a fair assessment of Herrera or not — we can’t fully know everything about their interaction from the outside — is sort of beside the point. He has to know by now that Mackanin is going to get after him for that stuff and he has to know that him not being in the game is neither good for the Phillies or for Herrera.

Are these growing pains or a signs of a growing problem? That, it would seem, is up to Odubel Herrera.

Video: Minor leaguer bounces a home run off of an outfielder’s head

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Jose Canseco hit 462 homers, was the 1986 Rookie of the Year, the 1988 MVP and played for 17 years in the big leagues, winning two World Series rings and making the playoffs five times. Yet he’s not remembered for any of that. At least not very often.

No, he’s remembered for his ignominy. For his role in participating in and, subsequently, exposing baseball’s PED-fueled world of the 1990s. For his continued insistence that he was blackballed by Major League Baseball and his continued attempts to play via the independent league route. For his crazy post-playing career antics in which he spent a few years tweeting about aliens, conspiracy theories and non-sequiturs of every stripe.

Mostly, though, people remember Canseco for one random play: the time he helped the Indians’ Carlos Martinez to a home run when a fly ball bounced off of Canseco’s head and over the wall back in 1993:

 

Well, Canseco now has a friend in infamy. That friend: Zach Borenstein of the Reno Aces, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. Yesterday Borenstein pulled a Canseco on what should’ve been an Alex Verdugo F-9:

Borenstein’s glove may have gotten a piece of that — the announcer seemed to think so anyway — and I have a hard time figuring that his head would give it that much bounce. I mean, look how far he was from the wall! He wasn’t even to the warning track. That’s a serious assist.

Still: gonna rule this a Canseco anyway. It’s too good not to.