KANSAS CITY – Billy Butler is one of the mainstays in the Royals’ lineup, but he’ll be relegated to a bit role once the World Series shifts to San Francisco following Wednesday’s Game 2.
The designated hitter will disappear with the shift to a National League park – and National League rules – for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 this weekend. That means Butler, a 2012 All-Star and one of the Royals’ top run producers of the past several seasons, will have to make his impact off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.
“I’ve had pretty good success in my career as a pinch hitter,” Butler said before Game 2. “I basically go up there, and my job every day is basically like four pinch-hit (at-bats).”
It’s the annual challenge for those American League squads that enter the Fall Classic with a full-time D.H. who has no true defensive spot on the diamond. Butler saw significant at first base early in his career, but he’s primarly been a D.H. since the 2011 season.
Kansas City manager Ned Yost isn’t going to remove his regular first baseman and cleanup hitter, Eric Hosmer. The only other position Butler realistically could be an option would be left field, but that’s the domain of Gold Glover Alex Gordon.
Butler, who hit .271 in the regular season but had just nine homers and 66 RBI, is a .306 career hitter in the pinch (11-for-36) with two homers and four RBI.
Yost, asked about the loss of the DH inside AT&T Park, was having none of the theory that his team will be at a disadvantage.
“We’ve got a big bat on the bench that we can bring in,” Yost said. “… To have a bat like Billy Butler on the bench coming into a situation … it could be the fourth inning, it could be the fifth inning or the sixth inning with guys in scoring position. That could be the difference.”