SBO REPORT:In NL park, Royals slugger Billy Butler prepares for role as a pinch hitter
Billy Butler stood in front of his sbo locker Thursday afternoon, smiling and talking about his very abrupt role change in the World Series. His two singles and two RBIs keyed the Kansas City Royals’ Game 2 victory, but now he’ll wait his turn as a pinch hitter when the series shifts to the Giants’ home turf for three games starting Friday.
It’s something that comes up every year in the World Series — the American League team is forced to find a new role for its designated hitter. For the Royals, a mostly small-ball team, there’s reason to worry about what will happen to their offense when Butler is confined to just one at-bat per game at most. But the team is sbo putting a positive spin on it, mostly because it has no other choice.
“It’s basically what I do four times a day anyway,” Butler said, showing the easy-going sensibility that comes with a nickname like Country Breakfast. “When you’re pinch hitting, you have to wait until the next day to hit again instead of the next hour.”.
The Royals can rationalize the loss of Butler a few ways: They can use him whenever they want now. It adds some power to their bench. And they played without him for a spell in September, when he fell out of favor in manager Ned Yost’s lineup. They know what they’re getting into.
“We can use this as sbo an advantage,” Butler said. “Because [Yost] can put me in any situation he wants.”
That, in fact, is exactly what Yost told Butler when they talked about his role with the series shifting to AT&T Park.
“Hey,” Yost said. “You can win a ballgame off the bench in the 7th inning just as well as you can getting four at‑bats.”
Butler’s numbers as a pinch hitter support that thinking. He’s 11-for-36 in his career as a pinch hitter, that’s a .306 average. It’s a smaller sample size, of course, but that’s better than his .295 career average. As a pinch hitter, Butler also has two sbo homers and four RBIs.
“I remember the good ones,” he said, when asked to his recall his career as a pinch hitter. “You gotta have a short memory on the other ones.”
There’s truth to the notion that Butler will have a chance to make a big impact as a pinch hitter. In the NL park, the Royals will have more pinch-hitting opportunities. Given the way they play and the nature of the postseason, the Royals will likely need him to tie a game or put them ahead.
To Butler, that means staying focused on the game is even more important than when he’s DHing.
“You can’t let your mind check sbo in and out,” Butler says. “You have to always be watching the game, watching pitch sequences, watching everything. You have to be mentally challenged. When you come in to pinch hit, you have to ramp up your focus even more because of the situation you’re getting throw into. You have to be ready for anything.”