The Royals have never won more than 75 games in a season since Billy Butler broke into the big leagues in 2007.
Like many of you, Butler thought 2013 would be different, so he sympathizes with fan frustration over another season teetering on the brink of a playoffs-free abyss.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“Next year, it will be 10 years ago I got drafted and we haven’t won, so, yes, it gets frustrating,” Butler said.
Still, there’s no place he’d rather than be than with the Royals.
Butler wants to win, but he’s adamant that he wants that winning to happen in Kansas City.
“We’re a better organization now than I’ve ever been a part of,” Butler said. “ I’ve put in so much hard work with this organization to get to the level where we make the playoffs.”
Butler, who entered Wednesday batting a career-worst .255, hopes that hard work will pay off. He’s as guilty as any player of pressing too much to make something happen for a scuffling offense.
“Obviously, the offense has been struggling a little bit,” Butler said. “I’ve put a little more pressure on myself and I’ve got to avoid that. There’s definitely some at-bats where I’ll get that borderline fastball and try to do something with it I can’t. I’ve just got to keep the bat on my shoulder and work for a better pitch.”
Yost shuffles lineup again
Manager Ned Yost turned to the club’s statisticians as he retooled the Royals’ lineup again in the wake of a series-opening shutout Tuesday night against the Twins.
“I had our statistical guys make an up an optimum lineup for us by the way we’re going against right- and left-handed pitching to try to see if we could take any advantage of (the matchups),” he said.
The new-look batting order shifted Eric Hosmer up to second followed by Salvy Perez, a change Yost was contemplating before the Royals’ starting catcher left on bereavement leave.
Alex Gordon remained in the leadoff spot with Billy Butler batting cleanup. The only change Yost made was to flip-flop Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas in the fifth and sixth spots to break up the left-handed hitters.
“I had a hard time having three lefties in a row since (the Twins) have three lefties (in the bullpen),” Yost said. “So, we put Moose in the five and Cain in the six to break up the lefties.”
Hosmer didn’t mind the new role in the order either.
“When your offense isn’t producing, you’ve got to change things up,” Hosmer said. “I understand the role of a No. 2 hitter and I’ve hit there before. It’s nothing new to me, but we’ve got to find something that works for us as an offense. We’re going to shuffle until we find something that clicks.”
Rehabbing Duffy Omaha-bound
Left-hander Danny Duffy’s comeback from a torn ligament in his left elbow took another step Wednesday when he was promoted to Class AAA Omaha after a wrapping up his third start for Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
“It’s just part of the natural progression for him,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “He’s obviously a major-league pitcher on a rehab assignment, so we just want to get his pitch count up then allow him to go pitch against the best competition he can. That’s in Omaha, so it’s time for him to go.”
Duffy, who had Tommy John surgery last June 13, took the loss in his latest outing against Oklahoma City despite striking out six in four innings. He surrendered three runs on five hits, including a home run, and a walk.
“His velocity has been good,” Moore said. “There really hasn’t been a big change in his stuff. For Danny, it’s just repeating his delivery and conditioning his arm, being able to locate his secondary pitches and command his fastball as well.”
Duffy went 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA, allowing five runs on 12 hits with four walks and 15 strikeouts during his stint with Northwest Arkansas.
Before the game, former Royals star Mike Sweeney was re-presented with his award for induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Sweeney, who threw out the first pitch, is among the club’s all-time top 10 in games played (1,282), at-bats (4,669), runs (700), hits (1,398), doubles (297), home runs (197), RBIs (837), batting average (.299), on-base percentage (.369) and slugging percentage (.492).
Yordano Ventura, the top pitching prospect in the Royals’ minor-league system, will make his Class AAA debut Thursday night when the Omaha Storm Chasers open a four-game series against Oklahoma City.
Ventura, 22, was 3-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 11 starts with Class AA Northwest Arkansas before he was promoted Monday on his birthday. He struck out 74 with a .189 opponents’ batting average in 57 2/3 innings and allowed 39 hits and 20 walks.