If the Texas Rangers aren’t serious about making him a starter, Matt Bush would like to know sooner than later.
Bush made his third start of the spring and lasted just two innings. It wasn’t his best effort – he gave up a two-run homer to Eugenio Suarez and walked two – and threw 43 pitches in a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Goodyear Ballpark.
Bush seemed discouraged about his prospects of starting afterward, saying he would’ve liked to throw closer to 60 pitches like Doug Fister did in a simulated game earlier in the day than in the 45 range for a second straight outing.
“Forty-five pitches two times in a row doesn’t seem right,” Bush said.
Bush made it clear that he is still preparing as though he’ll be in the rotation.
“That’s where my mind has been this entire offseason,” Bush said. “If I end up moving back, it’s something I’d rather know sooner than later because I feel like it is a mental block.”
Manager Jeff Banister said before the game that he anticipated Bush throwing around 45 pitches and reiterated that afterward. The Rangers are going to manage Bush's workload, especially when he has taxing innings as was the case Friday.
But Banister wouldn't give a definitive answer on whether the team is fully committed to Bush being in the rotation.
"We’ll make decisions on an everyday basis on how we go forward with this," Banister said. "Look, we’re still in the process of trying to get these guys into game shape, developing their pitches, their repertoire. As far as their pitch count also, it’s an ongoing process day-to-day as we make these decisions.
“The one thing we’ll try to take care of is their health all the way through. ... We’ll make decisions based on what we see on the mound and what our needs are also.”
Bush opened the game with a four-pitch walk to Billy Hamilton and then surrendered the home run to Suarez. He retired the next five, including three by strikeout, before giving up a two-out single to Tucker Barnhart and walking Ben Revere.
Bush escaped that inning, though, by getting Billy Hamilton to fly out.
That marked the end for Bush. It ranked as his shortest outing of the spring since his debut on Feb. 25 when he threw two scoreless innings vs. Colorado. Bush gave up two runs on three hits in his second outing March 3 vs. San Francisco.
“I wasn’t happy with it,” Bush said of his outing. “I felt like I was way too inconsistent with my fastball. My arm feels really strong, just finding the consistency in the rhythm with my lower half I feel like it’s something to focus on. Really happy with my curve ball. I threw a lot of them, pretty obvious keeping them off-balance.”
Bush is attempting to transition to the starting role after spending the past two seasons in the bullpen.
The Rangers have had mixed results in recent years with this sort of transition. C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando made successful transitions, while Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Neftali Feliz did not.
“I feel great,” Bush said. “It just has been trying to find everything. I don’t think it’s ever easy trying to find everything in spring training. Going from windup to not going from windup, I’m focused on (getting up) the pitch count.
“I’m thinking we need to stretch it from 45 to 60…I threw 45 today so I don’t know what that means."