DUNEDIN, Florida – Remember Dave Bush?
The 33-year-old one-time Blue Jay is back in Dunedin as a non-roster invite to spring training. A highly-touted second round pick when he was selected in the 2002 draft, Bush is trying to revive his career. His surroundings are familiar, if not the faces.
"There are not too many players left," said Bush. "I think (Dustin) McGowan is the only guy I played with here in the big leagues."
That's not entirely true, unless you're limiting the discussion to current Blue Jays. During his first stop in Toronto, 2004-2005, Bush pitched for manager John Gibbons and he counted pitching coach Pete Walker and bullpen coach Pat Hentgen as teammates. Chad Mottola, the Blue Jays new hitting coach, was a teammate of Bush's in the minor leagues.
“I don't mind it,” the product of Wake Forest University said of having bosses who were once his on-field brothers.
Bush was traded to Milwaukee in December, 2005, in the deal that brought Lyle Overbay to Toronto. His best years came with the Brewers, including back-to-back 12-win seasons in 2006-2007.
After his release from Texas in 2011 and quick cups of coffee with the Cubs and Phillies, with no major league service time, Bush went to Korea last season. He helped guide his team, SK Wyverns based in Incheon, to the Korean Series (Korea's equivalent of the World Series) where it lost to the Samsung Lions. He comes back to North America with great stories.
Bush's five-year-old daughter, Avery, has blonde hair, a novelty in Asia. “People would talk down the street, strangers, and pet her hair. The old women would walk by, we'd be standing at the street corner waiting for the light to change and they'd be petting her hair.” Avery quickly adjusted, was okay with the attention, and Bush and his family enjoyed their time in a different culture.
On paper, the Blue Jays' rotation and bullpen is stacked. There isn't an apparent opening for a veteran pitcher on a spring training invite. In the likely event Bush does not win a job, he is hoping that some team takes notice.
“I feel like I can still get people out,” said Bush. “If I didn't think I could do that, I'd go home and spend time with my family. But I still have the drive to compete, to work at it and I still feel physically I can do it.”