RC interview with Billy Butler

Billy Butler has been tearing up the Texas League this season, leading the Wichita Wranglers with a .327 batting average. On Monday, RC sat down with Butler to discuss his season, his approach at the plate, and some other random topics.

Royals Corner: Billy, how do you feel about how the season is going so far?

Billy Butler: It's going good. The second half, we really came out and started playing better. We started slow in the first half, as we are a young team. We're fighting back, and we're learning from the mistakes we made earlier in the year, and we're starting to play a lot better together in the second half.

RC: How would you describe your approach at the plate? You've been walking more often lately, and you've been on fire since the beginning of June. What adjustments have you made throughout the season?

BB: I look for my pitch to hit, and if it's not there early in the count, I don't swing at it, because I don't have to. Of course, when you get late in the count, you have to battle to stay alive. You might have to foul off the pitch that the pitcher wants. The key is that if you foul off the pitches that he's trying to get you out on, hopefully he'll make a mistake. If not – sometimes he doesn't – then you just have to hit his pitch, and hopefully it finds a hole.

RC: Do you pattern your approach after any particular Major League hitter? Is there anyone whose approach you particularly admire?

BB: I don't necessarily take after anybody. I have a certain approach which a lot of big leaguers probably have, which is that you don't give at bats away and you don't swing at a pitch that's not yours unless you have to. And that keeps you from swinging at something that you have no business swinging at early in the count. If you're looking for a certain pitch, you shouldn't swing for another one early in the count. Late in the count, you might have to if you're behind in the count. It's all about just being a smart hitter.

RC: How's your defense progressing?

BB: I've been working really hard at it, and I've improved out there a lot. I'm getting better every day, and that's the key. I worked really hard this offseason to become a better outfielder, and I feel that I have, and the organization feels that I'm head and shoulders above where I was last year. I hope to keep getting better and to contribute out there in the big leagues.

RC: Is there anything in particular that you feel needs a lot more work defensively? What are you focusing on to improve?

BB: I'm focused on the whole game out there. I'm trying to get better in every aspect of the game, and it's going to make me better in the future. I work on defense more than I ever have – I work on defense more than I work on offense. I'm going to continue working on all of it because I want to be the best player possible, not just be adequate. I'm getting better defensively. I'm not there yet, but I'm going to work until I become the best player I can possibly be.

RC: You and teammate Alex Gordon were recently selected to participate in the Futures Game. Can you tell us a little about that? Are you excited to get out to Pittsburgh?

BB: It's a privilege to do that, and it's something that's amazing that I'll have a blast doing – an all around great experience. It's really a privilege and an honor to be in that company in the Futures Game, and it's something I'm proud to be a part of.

RC: So, who would win a home run derby between you and Gordon? Do you guys ever compete in batting practice?

BB: I think it would definitely depend on the park. There are certain parks where lefties would win, some parks that righties would win at. If we were in the same batting practice group, I think we'd definitely try to hit it as far as we can. The key is that you have to go up there and work on hitting too – I don't try to hit homeruns in batting practice a lot – I try to get backspin on the ball, and if it goes out, it goes out. In a game, that's where it usually happens. You don't try to hit one out, you just try to hit it hard, and that's when they go out.

RC: Do you have any superstitions?

BB: To tell you the truth, I'm somewhat superstitious. When I'm on a hitting streak, I don't like to change my routine. I don't like to change anything. When the hitting streak is broken, I might do something different.

RC: I know you're a big Redskins fan. How are they looking this year?

BB: I definitely have to say, in past years it's been tough being a Redskins fan. I have to say that this year's looking brighter than others. They had a great offseason picking up free agents. The Redskins are picked very highly this year in preseason lists, and they're picked to make the playoffs. We'll see if they can get it done this year. If they don't make it, you'll probably see me a little depressed, maybe for a day or so, and then I'll be ready for next year. That's the way I am – I'm a big Skins fan, so there's always next year.

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