Phil Long/Associated Press
Oakland Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion Monday in the aftermath of an altercation with teammate Danny Valencia, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The team announced it would call up Arismendy Alcantara in the corresponding move.
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Butler and Valencia Fined but Not Suspended
Monday, Aug. 22
In addition to reporting the two players were fined rather than suspended, Shea noted the Athletics training staff told general manager David Forst that Butler “would need five to seven days,” which prompted the decision to put him on the seven-day concussion DL.
“Forst said he’s not concerned, that this is not the first clubhouse fight ever,” Shea added. “He said it’s [the] first [the] A’s had this year.”
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Butler and Valencia had a “physical confrontation” before batting practice Friday. Slusser reported players had to break up the ensuing fight, and Valencia hit Butler on the head after the two exchanged shoves.
Citing players who spoke anonymously, Slusser reported an equipment representative asked Valencia about off-brand spikes in his locker that he was told not to wear in games. While Valencia said he uses them only before games, Butler reportedly told the representative otherwise and suggested the company should drop Valencia’s endorsement deal.
Slusser noted Butler “has an equipment endorsement with a different company.”
John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reported the two players haven’t spoken since the fight.
“One [player] said that Valencia and Butler both played roles in the incident,” Slusser wrote. “Valencia should not have punched Butler. And Butler should not have provoked Valencia by potentially costing him an endorsement contract.”
Butler and Valencia both played for the Kansas City Royals during the 2014 season, and Valencia joined Oakland in August 2015.
Valencia has played for the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and Athletics since entering the big leagues in 2010.
Former teammate Eric Hosmer came to his defense in the face of potential criticism regarding the incident:
Don’t understand all the negativity towards Danny Valencia. One of the better teammates/friends I’ve had in this game.
— Eric Hosmer (@TheRealHos35) August 22, 2016
As for the temporary loss of Butler, Oakland will miss an important presence in its lineup. He is slashing .286/.338/.419 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 79 games this season, which are solid numbers but a far cry from his prime, when he slashed .313/.373/.510 with 29 homers and 107 RBI for Kansas City in 2012.
Last year, Butler’s first with the Athletics following eight seasons with the Royals, he hit 15 homers.
This is a lost season for Oakland, so there is no pennant race for Butler to rush back to as the calendar approaches October. Rather than risking further injury, he will take this time on the seven-day DL.
The fourth-place Athletics were 19.5 games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West entering play Monday.
Look for Oakland to turn to Khris Davis as an option at DH. Davis is in the middle of a career campaign with 32 home runs and 79 RBI in 115 games. Veteran Coco Crisp can play in the outfield when Davis is the DH or DH when Davis is in the outfield.