Coming into the year, the Padres were happy with the off-season of Matt Bush. He worked hard in the weight room to transform his body into a fitter specimen for full-season ball.
He was ticketed to High-A Lake Elsinore because the team felt he deserved it.
But the season began on a sour note. He hit under .200 through his first 14 games before catching a pocket of wind, going 8-for-18 with eight RBI over a five-game stretch for a season-high .226 average on April 27. Things spiraled down from there. He ended his tenure as a hitter with a .204 average and missed several weeks to injury.
He ends his career with a .219 average over 206 minor league games as a hitter. Now, Bush's new career begins.
"The process is taking place (Thursday) for the first time. I have been thinking about it for a while and it is one of the reasons I went to Lake Elsinore last night – to talk to Matt and see what his feelings were.
"I think he is ecstatic about making this change. I think it is relieving a lot of pressure from him. It is something he really wants to do."
The 5-foot-11 Bush worked in the 92-94 MPH range with his fastball as a prep, topping out at 97 PH. He also had a plus curveball as a 17-year-old, going 9-1 with a 0.42 ERA for Mission Bay High School.
He was traditionally named to have the best arm for an infielder in each league he played.
"We are going to take it slow," Fuson cautioned. "We are going to leave him (in Lake Elsinore) for a week or so with Webby (pitching coach Steve Webber). We will let him do some sides. Let him do a different type of strength and conditioning program because he will be using a whole different set of muscles and muscle groups and take it slow.
"From there, if he feels good and the arm is ok from the sides then we will get him in simulation games for a little bit and take it slow and see where we are in the middle of the month."
Bush was also known to have a compact delivery, but who knows how it will all translate after being away from the mound for so long.
A right-hander out of Rose State Community College, McBryde was signed by the Padres as a draft-and-follow minutes before the signing deadline.
"He is a big, strong kid that (scout) Lane Decker has liked for two years now and has been under our control for two years," said Fuson. "It got to a point where Lane wanted to be aggressive."
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder went 4-5 with a 4.01 ERA this year, allowing 65 hits and 22 walks while striking out 82. He has a plus fastball and good feel for off-speed pitches.
"He is a big, physical kid who can get it up to 96, 90-94 pretty firm," Fuson added. "He is around the zone and has a good clean arm, similar to (Aaron) Breit – a similar type guy."
McBryde is slated to begin the season in Eugene.
The news on third baseman Bryce Lefebvre was not nearly as good. He hit .314 with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 48 games for Scottsdale Community College.
A 45th-round pick in 2006, the Padres had a 48-hour window to negotiate with him after his final game on Wednesday. They would not need to use the full window.
"We are done with him," Fuson said. "We are not signing Bryce Lefebvre. He has apparently decided to go to school."