CHICAGO — Royals designated hitter Billy Butler got to Cellular Field on Wednesday morning, ready to do his pregame routine and prepare to face White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.
But Butler was in for a surprise. He wasn’t in the lineup. Against a left-handed pitcher.
Skipper Ned Yost decided to go with Danny Valencia at designated hitter, and left-handing hitting Mike Moustakas at third base. And, essentially, Yost opted to sit Butler.
"He told me to ‘take a day,’" Butler said of Yost. "I know it’s a long year. You need a day here and there. It is what it is. It’s not my choice — he makes the lineup.
"So you just go out and support the lineup he has."
Butler said it wasn’t up to him to agree or disagree with the decision.
"I came in prepared to play," Butler said. "I don’t put too much thought into it. He’s got nine guys he’s got to play and he’s got to put the best lineup he can out there."
Yost’s explanation: "I need some production out of that (DH) spot. Valencia hits left-handed pitching well. Moose is swinging well."
The move Wednesday had its pluses: Moose launched the winning rally in the ninth with a single, then scored the go-ahead run. But Valencia had a dreadful day, grounding into two double plays and then striking out with two on in the sixth.
As for Butler, he finally got into the game later for Eric Hosmer, whose bruised hand got worse as the game went on. And then Butler, in his second at-bat, hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the ninth.
Coincidentally, the discussion of Butler’s penchant for hitting into double plays was broached with Yost earlier, particularly the fact that Butler also had hit into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth on Tuesday night.
"He needs to get loft there," Yost said.
Butler, whose 17 double plays are second most in the big leagues, said he was trying to do just that.
"Of course, I’m trying to loft it," Butler said. "That’s evident. Everybody would. It’s not like I chopped the ball.
"It’s one of those things — a one-hop double play. Of course, I’m trying to get the ball in the air. I’d like to hit the ball in the gap.
"But if I hit the ball two feet to the left, it’s a two-run single."
Butler added that his first responsibility is to simply hit the ball hard.
"I don’t think you think about anything other than that," he said. "You go up there and just look for a good pitch to hit. I wouldn’t change anything I did in that at-bat. I hit it hard.
"By no means am I trying to hit the ball on the ground. I know what my job is in that situation. I hit the ball really hard and it was a bad result. I know I’m supposed to get the ball in the air."
Butler’s double play Wednesday was yet another hard-hit ball up the middle that was speared in a dive by the second baseman, who flipped to the shortstop for one out, and the relay beat Butler in plenty of time.
"That’s baseball," he said. "You can do everything right and get a bad result. You can do everything right and it’s like the game doesn’t care."
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Butler also said he is fully aware of how often he hits into double plays.
"I have an approach that hasn’t changed," he said. "How many times have I gone up there and succeeded in those situations (and) hit the ball on the nose?