Major League Hall of Famer Ted Williams was known by the nickname, "Splendid Splinter." If Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler spent any more time on the bench recently, he'd be getting some stingy splinters.
Luckily, he showed some whopping wood in a series of wins, this week.
Pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of Friday's game at home against the Cleveland Indians, Butler stepped to the plate with a runner on and two outs.
He belted a pitch off Indians reliever John Axford and planted it in the left field seats. The home run proved to be the deciding factor in Kansas City's 6-4 win.
''As of late, the production definitely is not there,'' Butler told reporters.
''Over my career, it's there, but this game is about what you've done for me lately. If he (manager Ned Yost) thinks a guy matching up differently is better for the team, that's what he's got to do. He's got a job to do putting the lineup out there.''It's just my job to prove I belong in there.
"I've been in the league a long time. If you give up and get put in a situation like that, you don't compete. I'm not going to give up.''
Finally finding form?
In his last 10 games before Friday, Butler was 4 for his last 28 at-bats. He only had three home runs after hitting 108 over a seven-year career.
It's been a down year, for sure, but Butler might be having an uprising this weekend.
He came through again on Saturday.
Butler belted another two-run shot, this time it came in the fifth inning. This home run also gave the Royals the winning lift in a 7-5 victory.
"I've never been a guy that's usually gotten distance, but I've caught the last two pretty good," Butler told Royals.com of his home runs that traveled 433 and 422-feet, respectively.
The Royals overcame an early 5-0 deficit against the Indians and scored in three consecutive innings to take the lead. They've also moved past Cleveland in the American League Central Division standings.
The Royals are now in second place, five games back of the Detroit Tigers, with a 53-50 record. The Indians are now 51-53 and losers of six of their last seven games, after earning a five-game winning streak a week ago.
Butler's resurgence could be a growing factor as Kansas City looks to sweep their division rivals and hold them off for the rest of the season.
A career .296 hitter, Butler is hitting just .268 this season. It's a big year for Butler, too, on the contract side of things. He's in the last full year of his contract, but the Royals have the option of picking him up for 2015 at a cost of $12.5 million. That's a hefty price for the small market club, especially if Butler's slide continues.
He's not worried about that, though. He wants to get better, but at what cost? The money isn't exactly what he's playing for.
"I've been with the Royals for my whole career so why wouldn't I?" he told reporters. "It's all I've ever known and I love it here. I never said anything about, 'Oh, it's my option year, take it or leave it.'"
He doesn't have a nickname like the Splendid Splinter, yet. But if his clutch magic keeps up, Butler may be known as the "Powerful Pincher" in Kansas City.
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