03/11/11 1:04 PM ET
Bush has impressed Maddon, Rays
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
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."
Crawford sold on Jennings
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- When he played for the Rays, Carl Crawford constantly heard that Desmond Jennings was coming up through the farm system and would be the guy to replace him as the team's left-fielder.
Crawford and Jennings eventually got to know each other as teammates and became friends. When Crawford visited Charlotte Sports Park on Thursday wearing a Red Sox uniform, he was asked about Jennings facing the pressure of eventually becoming the heir apparent to Crawford.
"That's good," Crawford said. "He should have that kind of pressure on him. It will make him want to work harder and try to get somewhere. That's good, if they're thinking he can be the next me. He definitely has the ability to do it. He has the makeup to be a good player, and I think he has the work ethic. It's there for him to be. If he just works hard at it, I think he can do it."
Rays make first cuts of spring
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays made their first cuts of the spring on Friday afternoon.
The following eight players were reassigned to Minor League camp:
Right-handers Brian Baker, Jonah Bayliss, Matt Bush, Dan De La Rosa, Rickey Orta and Albert Suarez, left-hander Alex Torres and outfielder Brandon Guyer.
Friday's cuts whittled down the number of pitchers in camp to 24, and the total number to 54.
Maddon reiterated that he will not anoint a closer during Spring Training, and he isn't certain one will be named by the end of April. "I'm wanting that to happen, but I'm not going to force it, either," Maddon said. If a closer eventually evolves from the group in the bullpen, Maddon said, he will be consistent, a strike thrower, and have the right attitude emotionally to handle the ninth inning. ... Joe Maddon's father-in-law, Ted Sousoures, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 81 on Thursday night in California. ... James Shields, David Price and B.J. Upton are scheduled to play in the Celebrity Pro-Am at the Transitions Championship PGA event that takes place at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla., on Monday, the Rays' off-day. The group could be seen in the Rays' clubhouse on Friday, perusing a T. Barry Golf Knickers catalogue to possibly make a fashion statement on the course.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.