Matt Bush saga continues

Matt Bush is still missing in action. He sits on the sidelines in Peoria waiting for a chance to play with fellow draft picks that were chosen behind him. And his return in the immediate future is tenuous at best as San Diego Padres General Manager has set the tone with an indefinite suspension.

Matt Bush apparently won't be launching his professional career until he and his agent, Jeff Moorad, agree to some guarantees the Padres are seeking.

The 18-year-old shortstop was arrested at a nightclub across from the Padres' training complex in Peoria, Ariz., on June 20, less than two weeks after the Padres made him the first player taken in the 2004 draft.

Bush remains on indefinite suspension.

When asked if Bush could return without such an agreement, Towers was emphatic: "It won't happen."

"We are still negotiating with the agent," said Towers. "We've talked concept about giving us protection. I'm still hopeful we can work something out that will give us protection over the next year and a half or so that there be no violent behavior, alcohol abuse or drug abuse.

"Our hope is that Matt and his advisors can structure something that is beneficial to both sides. But we fell we've been put on the defensive, and we shouldn't be. The suspension is going to go on until we're comfortable, and we're not yet comfortable."

Legally, the clouds over Bush are clearing.

The assault charge facing the product of San Diego's Mission Bay High have been dropped, and the Peoria Prosecutor's Office has yet to move forward on the three misdemeanors still on the table.

"As it stands right now, no charges are pending," said Darrow Soll, Bush's Phoenix-based attorney. "They could be refiled. It is our hope that the charges will be permanently dropped and Matt will quickly resume his career."

But the Padres have not only put Bush's career on hold, they have hired a private investigator to look into the player's background as well as his family's background. They are concerned about some of the things they have learned.

"I don't think he's surrounded himself with very many positive influences, and that has gotten him into trouble," said Towers, who added, "I have a read on this kid ... whether he's sincere or not." But he wouldn't say what that read was.

"He's a competitor," said Towers. "I like the way he performs when he crosses the line. He's fun to watch."

But Bush has yet to cross the lines for the Padres' team in the Arizona Rookie League. While on suspension, Bush is being given room and board but no salary. He is also allowed to use the team's training facilities and watch his team's games. The Padres thus far have paid Bush only $150,000 of his $3.15 million bonus.

Towers said the Padres didn't have as much background information on Bush -- who shot to the top of their draft list only days before the selection -- as they did on the other three players (college juniors Stephen Drew, Jered Weaver and Jeff Niemann) they were considering for the No. 1 pick.

"We didn't have the opportunity to look more into the individual," said Towers. "He took the same psychological test, the same in-house visit. But we didn't have as much time with the national scouts. And I think with us, that is the danger of cutting a deal so soon (the Padres signed Bush less than 48 hours after drafting him)."

Padres owner John Moores has put the final decision regarding Bush in the hands of Towers and club president Dick Freeman ... but he is not happy about the situation. "This thing (character) is a stickler with us," said Towers. "It's different here. It starts at the top. John sets the tone. If it was up to John ..."

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