Butler chats with Royals fans
Designated hitter/first baseman answers questions online
On Tuesday, Royals designated hitter/first baseman Billy Butler talked with and answered questions for fans online. What follows is a transcript of the chat.
Billy Butler: Hi everyone, it's great to get to chat with y'all today. You've got me for an hour, so let's get started.
scout01: Did you always want to be a professional ballplayer? What do you think you'd be doing if you weren't playing ball?
Butler: Yes, it's the only thing I wanted to do since I was 6 years old, which was the first time I ever signed up for baseball. If I weren't playing ball, I'd be coaching or doing something with baseball, because it truly is my life.
royalsno5: Hi Billy. It's great having you in KC. What are your goals at the plate this year? Anything specific or just rake? Thanks!
Butler: Thank you, it's great being a Royal. Outside the box, I just want the team to do well, but when in the box, I want drive in runs and have a good average with runners in scoring position. That's my biggest goal.
pujols4hrking: Hi, Mr. Butler. I am a big fan of the Royals. Congratulations on the win yesterday! How do you think Alex [Gordon] and you are growing as players? How do you think the Royals will do this year?
Butler: Thanks, we had a lot of fun. This is our third year playing together, and I think that we are on a level now where we know what we're expected to do -- and that's a good feeling, knowing that and how the Royals feel about us and how we feel about the Royals organization.
cowtigers3: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Butler: Chipper Jones, because he graduated from Bolles High School, which is a mile from where I went to high school. I played the same position he did growing up and he played for the Braves, my favorite team growing up. It all just fell together.
kcroyals13: What did you think about Alex Gordon's home run yesterday?
Butler: He absolutely crushed that ball. It got us going and rejuvenated our team for us to get that win.
kcfan11: Billy, I'm pumped about yesterday's win. Do you guys think this will be a preview of the whole season?
Butler: If we can come back from 3-0 against Detroit on its Opening Day in front of 45,000 people -- against probably the most stacked lineup in the American League -- it's a great boost to our confidence and makes us feel we can compete on any given day.
newblu: Billy, do you keep in touch with any of the other players selected in the first round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft? Guys like Justin Verlander, Homer Bailey, Drew or Phillip Hughes. ...
Butler: I went to school with Eric Hurley, who was the 30th pick in that Draft. I talk to him about once a week. Other than that, because of our demanding schedule, it's hard to keep in touch. When I do see someone from that Draft class, I make sure that we catch up.
reddog68: Billy, what's your favorite spot to eat in KC and favorite spot on the road? Plus, favorite road stadium?
Butler: I love Kona Grill in Kansas City. They've got great sushi and great menu. My wife and I love to go there. It's very convenient to where we live in KC. As for the stadium, Fenway Park because of all of the history. You get chills running through your body just looking at the Green Monster.
beau21: Billy, are you a video game player? If so, what kind of games do you play?
Butler: I have a Playstation 3 and I play the college football and all of the Madden games that come out. This year is the first year I've been in a video game, so I had to check that out. I'm a big sports video game player.
tring21: Billy, being as young as you are, does it add pressure to work on your defense instead of sitting in the dugout and raking four to five times a game? Oh, and how could you change your number from 21?
Butler: Sounds to me like you own a Butler 21 jersey. ... The reason I switched was because I had worn No. 16 my whole baseball career growing up, but couldn't wear it here last year because Reggie Sanders was one of our most veteran players and it was his number. I had the chance to change over the offseason and did so.
grimsey_2: Who is your best friend off the field?
Butler: I would say Mark Teahen. We go to dinner quite often with my wife and his girlfriend in Kansas City, then Mark and I go to dinner together on the road most nights.
isaac08: Hey Billy, I love the Royals and am a former member of the grounds crew out at Kauffman -- what do you think of our new manager Trey Hillman and what does he bring to the table for the short- and long-term aspirations of the ballclub?
Butler: Trey gives us confidence. He brings a new look to the Royals and gives us a fresh start. He's so energetic and all of us feed off of his energy. It gives us a big boost every day to come in and know that your manager is fighting for you as hard as he does.
royalsno5: What advice would you give a young player on the art of hitting?
Butler: The best thing I can tell you is repetition. I've taken 200-300 swings a day since I was 6 years old. The only way I know to stay in this game is to work as hard as you can on your swing. It's proven that the toughest thing to do in sports is hit a 90-plus mph fastball, and if you don't continue to work hard on your swing, this game will pass you by.
reddog68: Billy, you have a different stance and a high leg kick. ... Who was your greatest influence coming up through the Minors on hitting? Plus do you ever get tired of all the defensive-position talk? All I know is you can rake, and thats good enough for me.
Butler: Nobody influenced the leg kick, it's just a timing mechanism. It gets a little old hearing about the defensive stuff, but I work twice as hard on defense as I do on offense, but it's just not part of my game right now. Even though I'm not playing defensively much right now, I want people to know that I'm working extremely hard on it and striving to eventually become a first baseman. This is only my first full year being a first baseman so everyone has to be patient. I plan on being around here a long time.
therock45: I will be at the April 12 game to get your jersey, so i wanted to ask you, how do you like the Royals' Butler giveaway jersey?
Butler: I'm honored to be the person on the Powder Blue jersey that will be given away. With all of the history that goes with the Powder Blues, it brings a good tradition back and I'm honored that they selected me. I can't wait to see everyone wearing them.
bojack85: A lot of players get nicknames. Travis Hafner is known by many as Pronk. Have you gotten a nickname yet?
Butler: Yep, Teahen gave me the name "Bill the Thrill." You're going to have to ask Mark why, though. I have a feeling it's from him watching me hit, but he'd be better to answer that one.
cadets1: I know you guys are very busy every day. When do you find time to do little things like get your haircut or run errands? Please tell Alex that the Huskers state is VERY proud of him !
Butler: During the day before we go to the field, we have some time to run some errands, like you mentioned. As for Alex, I'll be happy to deliver the message. I hear he's pretty big in Nebraska.
campwest: Follow up to reddog's restaurant question. ... Which is better: Southeastern BBQ or Kansas City BBQ?
Butler: I've got to be politically correct. I've had both of them, their both great and I'm not going to push away any barbecue.
royalfan80: You hit a few lasers yesterday that just happened to be right at people. Do you feel zoned in right now?
Butler: Absolutely. I've been hitting balls right at people since we were in Milwaukee over the weekend. Baseball evens out, so I'm due for a couple of them to fall in soon for me.
BuddyBell: Billy, is Kansas City a place where you can see yourself playing your whole career? Or was it a dream of yours to someday go back to the East Coast and play near your home?
Butler: I've grown attached to Kansas City. If it's up to me, I'll play here my whole career, but decisions like that are between the organization and the player down the road. Suffice it to say, I love being a Kansas City Royal.
isaac08: Who do you have winning this year's Final Four?
Butler: Great question. I know where I make my home now, but I've had North Carolina from the beginning and can't change now.
kcmike5: Billy, how are you handling the pressure of being one of the "go-to" guys in the lineup?
Butler: It's no different than coming through the system as the "go-to" guy, it's just now I'm at the Major League level and you do with what you can of the opportunities your given each day.
pujols4hrking: What was the intensity like in the dugout as the Royals made the 11-inning comeback yesterday?
Butler: We were all giving high-fives and all really pumped up because when you're on the road it's definitely hard to come back, more so than when you're at home. We were all very proud of each other.
Butler: This has been very enjoyable getting your questions. I've got time for a couple more.
bluesdaddy: Billy, how much was George Brett involved in Spring Training, and what kind of things have you been able to learn from him?
Butler: He was involved a lot and I'm glad, because why not get expert hitting advise and general knowledge of baseball from a player who was as dominant as he was in his era?
nspird: With Mike Sweeney gone to the A's, which player or players have stepped up to become leaders in the clubhouse?
Butler: Mark Grudzielanek, Jose Guillen, Gil Meche and Brett Tomko have all been influential for all of us young players. Even though we're known as a young club, we are very fortunate to have the quality of veteran players in our clubhouse.
therock45: What's your favorite TV show to watch when you have some down time?
Butler: "King of Queens" is my favorite show. I love watching it because it's really funny. Comedies are my favorite viewing. I'll take anything with Will Ferrell in it. I also love watching the NFL. I'm a huge Redskins fan. I barbecue every Sunday at home if I'm not actually at the Redskins game.
Butler: This will have to be my last question. Thanks again for all of the different questions.
campwest: How do you like KC so far? I know its early, but how do you feel about a long-term contract with the Royals? We want you and Alex to be lifers like Brett and Frank White!
Butler: My wife and I love Kansas City. I would very much like to be a lifer here. We were talking about it yesterday about how excited we are to get home and see the new video board and how the renovations are coming along. It's going to be unbelievable to take what was already one of the most gorgeous stadiums in baseball with the fountains and all, and make it even better. It's a great time to be a Royal.
Butler: Thanks again everyone. We'll see you next week at 'The K.'
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.