Often overlooked, Butler now an All-Star
Royals slugger playing in first Midsummer Classic on home field
KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps Billy Butler was just overlooked for all these years. But no longer. Now, he's an All-Star.
Has the Royals' beefy slugger finally arrived?
"I've been here six years, so it's not necessarily 'arrived.' Maybe just getting noticed for something that you've done. Every player is in here for a reason -- because they're really good players -- and I'm just happy to be a part of it," Butler said.
What Butler was in on Monday afternoon was a media crush, as reporters interrogated the American League All-Stars in preparation for tonight's game. So, among other things, he discussed why he might have gone relatively unnoticed before, at least on a national scale.
"It's a game where you try to be consistent. Most consistent players usually hang around for a long time, and I've been that for a long time now. Sometimes that gets overlooked, saying you just pencil this guy in for X-amount of production and look at the end of the year and it'll be there," Butler said. "Sometimes it gets overlooked because it's not glamorous, it's not the most exciting thing to watch, but I take pride in that."
Manager Ned Yost, an AL All-Star coach, was happy for Butler, although he was hoping for a second Royals player on the team -- perhaps shortstop Alcides Escobar, closer Jonathan Broxton or third baseman Mike Moustakas.
American League lineup
|1. Derek Jeter, NYY||R||SS|
|2. Robinson Cano, NYY||L||2B|
|3. Josh Hamilton, TEX||L||LF|
|4. Jose Bautista, TOR||R||RF|
|5. Prince Fielder, DET||L||1B|
|6. Adrian Beltre, TEX||R||3B|
|7. David Ortiz, BOS||L||DH|
|8. Mike Napoli, TEX||R||C|
|9. Curtis Granderson, NYY||L||CF|
|Justin Verlander, DET||R||P|
"I just feel that Billy is kind of an underrated player," Yost said. "He just kind of flies under the radar, and for him to finally get that recognition is really due. And I was just proud for him because he shows up every single day ready to go, and he doesn't get all the recognition and accolades that he should, and for him to get named to the All-Star Game was just special for me."
Butler brings a career batting average of .296, an on-base percentage of .360, and 425 RBIs in 775 games to this party. Playing home games in spacious Kauffman Stadium, he's just 10 shy of 100 home runs, and two short of 200 doubles. There isn't an outfield gap that Butler doesn't love.
Some reporters tried to belabor a notion that Butler had been snubbed when the Yankees' Robinson Cano picked his quartet for Monday night's Home Run Derby and didn't include the hometown hero. But Butler wasn't biting.
"Robinson is a great player and he made his team, it's as simple as that," Butler said. "I hope I get one in the future, and it's nothing I can control. It's not something that's bothering me, I'm just enjoying the experience of being an All-Star. It's great."
For Butler, it was especially meaningful that his first All-Star Game came in the year of Chipper Jones' last. Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., Butler was a big fan of the Braves' third baseman.
"Chipper's my favorite player," Butler said. "I grew up a third baseman, and he went to Bolles High School, which was a mile away from mine, if that, so I looked up to him ever since. And being a Braves fan from Jacksonville, we'd go there every year and watch them play the Phillies. I watched everything in his career, so it's going to be great to interact with him and get to see him play in his final one. The game's going to lose a great player."
When Butler cruises through the AL clubhouse, the Royals' designated hitter plans to talk to the game's premier DH, David Ortiz of the Red Sox.
"I'm looking forward to chatting with him a little bit," Butler said. "I've definitely watched what this guy has done over the years, and he's definitely mastered it. He's a pretty unbelievable hitter."
Butler was asked if life as a DH would help him as a pinch-hitter, if it comes to that tonight.
"I don't know if that helps me at all. I feel like DHing and pinch-hitting are completely different. When you're DHing, you pretty much know you're getting four at-bats and you can prepare for them," Butler said. "Pinch-hitting, you get maybe a couple batters notice, maybe an inning. You're pretty much told, 'Hey, get ready, you might be the fourth hitter.'"
Whatever his role in the 83rd All-Star Game, Butler was just enjoying the entire experience in his home city.
"It's really a priceless moment," Butler said. "The city's been great to me and my family, the fans have been amazing, and what's better than to get with them at the home ballpark and share the excitement?"
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.