Rays right-hander Matt Bush made his first court appearance earlier today since being arrested Thursday evening in Florida on charges of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage, failure to stop and remain at a crash involving an injury, driving with a suspended license and DUI with serious bodily injury to another. According to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Tribune, his bail has been set at the hefty sum of $1.015 million.
Bush, a former No. 1 overall pick of the Padres in 2004, was driving an SUV on Thursday afternoon when he struck the back of a motorcycle driven by 72-year-old Tony Tufano. The 26-year-old fled the scene of the crash and was arrested 30 minutes later. Tufano remains in an intensive care unit at an area hospital with multiple injuries.
Bush’s attorney, Russell T. Kirshy, expected the judge to set a high bond, but argued that the former top prospect qualifies as being indigent (or poor) because he made $78,000 last season while pitching in Double-A and that he has only $2,000 in his bank account. That’s a tough sell.
Kirshy also told the judge that the Rays were trying to make arrangements for Bush to undergo a 72-hour hospital stay before entering a rehab program, but that request was denied. His arraignment is currently scheduled for May 21.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.