For Pete's Sake

Mike Sweeney on former teammate Billy Butler: ‘he’s just not a team guy’

In 2004, Billy Butler (with bat) visited with Royals Mike Sweeney (left) at the indoor batting cage during a visit to Kauffman Stadium.
In 2004, Billy Butler (with bat) visited with Royals Mike Sweeney (left) at the indoor batting cage during a visit to Kauffman Stadium. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Man, this has been a bad week for former Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.

It was one week ago that Butler, who is with the Oakland A’s, was involved in a fight with teammate Danny Valencia. Details emerged that showed Butler had stuck his nose in a conversation that Valencia was having with a shoe representative and upset Valencia. Butler was reportedly punched in the temple and hasn’t played since because of concussion-like symptoms.

After that, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who was teammates with both players, stuck up for Valencia. More stories have surfaced about Butler that haven’t been flattering.

The latest came on Friday when Royals special assistant for baseball operations Mike Sweeney was on 610 AM and was asked about the scuffle. He had some harsh words about Butler (and Valencia). Butler and Sweeney were only Royals teammates for one season in 2007, but Butler was with the team in 2014 when Sweeney joined the Royals in the front office.

Sweeney didn’t have great memories of Butler.

During the 610 AM interview, Sweeney recalled seeing Oakland bench coach Mark Kotsay during the off-season. Kotsay told Sweeney that A’s manager Bob Melvin had called Butler and Valencia clubhouse cancers and wanted to know what Sweeney knew about them.

“Both of them were hitting around .300 or over .300 when we got rid of them,” Sweeney said on 610. “(Royals general manager) Dayton Moore wants to build this team around character-driven people, and unfortunately, you know, they’re great players, but they didn’t fit in the mold of being championship players. ...

“When I saw that Billy and Danny got in a fight, it did not surprise me. Billy is a great-hearted guy. He’s like a 31-year-old kid that can hit, that wakes up and says I’m going to go out and get two hits today. Sadly, whether we win or lose, it wasn’t at the top of the list for Billy, as far as my experiences with him. But he’s a great-hearted guy, he’s just not a team guy. I felt the same with Danny.”

You can listen to the interview on 610 here.

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Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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