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Friedman: Bush done with Rays, relapse a surprise

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:18 PM

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PORT CHARLOTTE -

Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman spoke Sunday for the first time about Matt Bush, expressing surprise over the pitcher's relapse into alcohol abuse while extending his concern for the well-being of Tony Tufano, the motorcyclist injured in a crash that led to Bush's arrest.

Charges against Bush include driving under the influence with bodily injury.

"I think the fact that we were as surprised as we were speaks to how positive things were," Friedman said. "We worked extremely hard with his support system and everything else.

"The roster cut meeting we had (with Bush on March 18) was the most positive I had ever been a part of, talking about how great of a story it would be and knowing how hard different people worked, but we're sitting here right now and our concerns and thoughts and prayers are with the Tufano family, obviously."

Tufano, who investigators say was driving a motorcycle when struck from behind by a SUV driven by Bush, remains at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers with broken ribs, several broken bones in his back, a fractured wrist, road rash covering both arms, hemorrhaging in his brain and a collapsed lung.

His daughter-in-law, Shannon Moore, said Tufano was listed Sunday in critical condition. He is sedated and breathing with the help of a ventilator.

"We thought that he was doing a little bit better … but not so great," Moore said.

The family has hired the law firm of Arnold Levine & Associates of Tampa to guide them through the ordeal.

Bush is facing seven charges from the incident and remains in the Charlotte County Jail with his bail set at $1.015 million.

When asked about Bush's future with the team, Friedman said, "I think it's safe to say that he's not going to play for us on the field. But even that, with the ongoing criminal investigation, with all of the different dynamics in play, it's hard to talk about the 40-man (roster) spot and everything else, because until things advance more, it's difficult to know exactly which way we will be able to go."

At his first court appearance Saturday morning, Bush's attorney Russell Kirshy told the judge the Rays wanted to enter Bush into a rehab program that would begin with a 72-hour stay in a hospital. Friedman clarified that Sunday, saying that was a plan the organization would have in place if Bush were to bond out of jail.

"There's so many different parts to this. It was not knowing how the bond proceedings would go or work," Friedman said. "It was much more about if he was released, what are the next steps? Instead of he's out and whatever would take place from there. It was what do you do if that happens."

Bush, who has admitted to having an alcohol problem, went through rehab in 2010 before signing with the Rays as a minor league free agent. He was randomly tested for alcohol when he first joined the organization, but those tests ended when he was placed on the 40-man roster before the 2011 season and became a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"When a guy goes on the 40-man it's different than when he's not on the 40-man," Friedman said.

Bush has a suspended license and does not own a vehicle, according to his agent, Jonathan Weisz. The Florida Highway Police report states Bush was driving a Dodge Durango when he struck Tufano's Harley Davidson's motorcycle from behind on U.S. 41 in Port Charlotte.

When asked Sunday if that Durango belonged to Rays minor league outfielder Brandon Guyer, Friedman answered, "The fact that it's a criminal investigation is difficult for me to say. Obviously, those facts will come out as it gets going, but it's not my place to do so."

When asked Sunday morning if Bush was driving his vehicle, Guyer declined to comment on the advice of his lawyer.


rmooney@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7227

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