OAKLAND, Calif. — Matt Bush was a pivotal piece in the Texas Rangers’ AL West title run.
He was nowhere to be found as his teammates sprayed champagne in all directions celebrating that crown in the visitors’ clubhouse at Oakland Coliseum.
The former No. 1 overall pick by his hometown San Diego Padres in 2004 and now a 30-year-old rookie, Bush served a 51-month prison sentence for a drunken driving with serious bodily harm.
“Every single player on this team is part of the family,” Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Unfortunately we know he can’t celebrate with alcohol, but like we did with Josh Hamilton we try to make him feel comfortable like a family so he can celebrate, too.”
In 2010 and 2011, the Rangers sprayed ginger ale in the clubhouse as a way to include Hamilton and pitcher C.J. Wilson, who also doesn’t drink, in their celebrations.
This time, Jeremy Jeffress also was limited to the ginger ale drenching. He was reinstated by Major League Baseball and rejoined the team Friday after being placed on the restricted list following an arrest on a drunken driving charge last month.
“It started in 2010,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “Just to be respectful of both Matt and Jeremy, Matt especially, he’s been with us since November, he’s been up in the big leagues since May. You saw what he’s capable of tonight. I’m really proud of him as a man, as a person first and then as a player second, it’s out of respect for those guys.”
Bush has enlisted an accountability partner, Roy Silver, to help him with his sobriety.
Jeffress spent three weeks at an inpatient rehab facility before his reinstatement. He said before Friday’s game that his treatment will be ongoing.
“I’m still a sick man,” he said. “I’m still continuing with my treatment.”
Both players will continue to be embraced by their teammates, Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis said.
“It’s camaraderie, we do things a little different in our clubhouse and we want to make sure everyone is comfortable,” Lewis said. “Everyone is a part of something special and that’s why we do it.”