Ned Yost on Billy Butler wanting to play first base: “I’d like to be an astronaut”

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Billy Butler spent the past two seasons as the Royals’ primary first baseman, starting 143 games there in 2009 and another 126 games there in 2010, but this year manager Ned Yost has opted to go with Kila Ka’aihue at first base while using Butler at designated hitter.

Butler is still holding out hope that his glove won’t merely collect cobwebs for the rest of his career, telling Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star “there’s no doubt” he’d prefer to be playing first base “but I’m not going to make an issue out of not playing over there.”

Asked if he understands Butler’s desire to play first base, manager Ned Yost replied:

Sure I do, but you know what, I’d like to be an astronaut … and for some reason, they just won’t let me. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes, people find their niche.

Ka’aihue is far from a sure thing to be in the Royals’ long-term plans, but with various big bats coming up through their stocked farm system odds are Butler will always be the most obvious DH choice. There have certainly been plenty of worse-fielding regulars at first base over the years, but Butler is never going to be anything but below average there and the time at DH isn’t hurting his production at the plate, as he’s hitting .368 with a 1.037 OPS through 16 games.

He has a much better chance of being an everyday first baseman again than Yost does of being an astronaut, but neither is an especially great idea.

Steven Matz underwent season-ending surgery

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Steven Matz underwent season-ending surgery on his left elbow today. The procedure was to reposition a compressed nerve in his elbow.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66.2 innings. That line was, obviously, a function of the bum nerve in the bum elbow. Trouble aside, Matz is expected to be ready for Opening Day in 2018.

The Mariners Designate Leonys Martin for Assignment. Again.

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Back in April the Mariners designated outfielder Leonys Martin for assignment. He cleared waivers, accepted an assignment to Triple-A Tacoma and proceeded to hit .312/.352/.506 in 84 minor league games, leading to the Mariners calling him up on July 30.

In 19 games since then he’s hit a bit better than he did back in April, but not great: .230/.266/.426. So they just designated him for assignment again. The Rainers only have six more games this season, so he’s likely not going back there. Given that he’s arbitration eligible and the M’s are unlikely to tender him a contract, he’s likely to elect free agency once he clears waivers. Which he will, because he’s making nearly $5 million this year.

Odd year for Martin, who will likely be competing for a roster spot someplace next spring.