Bill Baer

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 22: First baseman Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics looks on after committing an error during the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Coliseum on May 22, 2016 in Oakland, California. The Yankees defeated the Athletics 5-4. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Report: Billy Butler and Danny Valencia got in a fight because Butler potentially cost Valencia an endorsement deal


Update #2 (7:21 PM EDT): Both Valencia and Butler have been fined, per the Chronicle’s John Shea.


Update (6:30 PM EDT): Slusser hears that Valencia will be fined for punching Butler.


On Sunday, Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in an “altercation” in which Butler was injured. Butler missed two games and Valencia was curiously absent from Sunday’s lineup.

Details were scant at the time, but Slusser now has reported specifics on what happened at the Chronicle. So here’s what happened.

On Friday, an equipment representative was at the ballpark before batting practice and quizzed Valencia about a pair of off-brand spikes found in his locker. Valencia said that he only uses those spikes during pre-game workouts. Butler chimed in and said that Valencia was lying. Butler also allegedly told the representative to drop Valencia from the endorsement deal. Per Slusser, endorsement deals are worth in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $20,000 and sometimes more.

Later, after the rep had left the stadium, Valencia went up to Butler and said, “Don’t you ever loud talk me in front of a rep. That was wrong.”

Butler responded, saying, “I can say whatever I want and your b— ass isn’t going to do anything about it.”

One of the players Slusser spoke to said the players bumped heads and pushed each other. Valencia then punched Butler in the temple.

As was the case on Sunday, both Butler and Valencia have declined to comment on the incident. Slusser, who is regularly around the players, makes a point to say that Butler and Valencia “have a longstanding loud, joking, back-and-forth bantering relationship.”

Slusser quotes one player who said, “Those two go at it every day, so in that way, it was pretty normal. If Bill had dropped it, Danny never would have done anything. But he kind of kept egging him on. I think it’s fair to say he was verbally provoked, very much so. I’m worried about what might happen to Danny now, but at the same time, you don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”

Valencia absolutely should not have punched Butler, that’s quite obvious. Butler, though, comes off very poorly if the details of this story are accurate. It’s quite possible, based on Slusser’s description of the two players’ relationship, that he was simply trying to prank Valencia and took the joke way too far. Or Butler was simply being obnoxious.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who was Valencia’s teammate in 2014, tweeted in support:

A’s outfielder Coco Crisp also offered his support to Valencia with a tweet, which first baseman Yonder Alonso retweeted:

Mets to place Steven Matz on the disabled list with a tight shoulder

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 18:  Starting pitcher Steven Matz #32 of the New York Mets delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Mets will place starter Steven Matz on the 15-day disabled list with a tight left shoulder, James Wagner of The New York Times reports. The club hasn’t made an official announcement, but the move can be made retroactive to August 15.

Matz had been scratched from Friday’s scheduled start against the Giants. The 25-year-old has had a great season for the Mets, compiling a 3.40 ERA with a 129/31 K/BB ratio over 132 1/3 innings.

Seth Lugo started in Matz’s place on Friday and will likely continue to start as long as Matz is sidelined.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 16: Jameson Taillon #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park on August 16, 2016 in San Francisco, California. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-3. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Pirates starter Jameson Taillon gets the ball tonight against the Astros’ Doug Fister in a 7:05 PM EDT start at PNC Park. Taillon has been on a roll since coming off of the disabled list shortly after the second half began. Over his last six starts, he has a 2.37 ERA with a 31/4 K/BB ratio in 38 innings.

Taillon had been on the disabled list since late June due to fatigue in his right shoulder. The 24-year-old also missed the 2014-15 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Understandably, the Pirates plan to limit Taillon’s innings. He has crossed 100 pitches only twice in 11 starts. And with 66 major league innings and 61 2/3 innings at Triple-A, Taillon is close to his professional career-high of 147 1/3 in 2013.

The Pirates, however, are balancing that with a run at the National League Wild Card. They are only three games out of the second Wild Card slot, currently held by the Cardinals, and 4.5 back of the Giants who hold the first slot presently. Do the Pirates play it safe and potentially concede the Wild Card race, or do they go for their third consecutive Wild Card berth and risk Taillon’s durability?

It’s not a perfect parallel, but the Nationals played it safe with Stephen Strasburg in 2012, refusing to let him pitch in the postseason — the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1981 — despite putting up a 3.16 ERA during the regular season. Strasburg sat out and the Nationals lost the NLDS to the Cardinals in five games. The Nationals received a lot of criticism for the decision, but Strasburg made 30 starts in 2013 and 34 starts in ’14. He was hampered by a benign growth on his back last year and then was placed on the DL with an elbow issue today. No one can say for sure, but if the Nationals pushed Strasburg for potentially 20-30 postseason innings that year, he might not have become the pitcher he is today. And that’s what the Pirates will have to consider with Taillon.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Washington Nationals (A.J. Cole) @ Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy), 7:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell), 7:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 7:20 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Godley), 9:40 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) @ Oakland Athletics (Andrew Triggs), 10:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ San Diego Padres (Edwin Jackson), 10:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Michael Pineda) @ Seattle Mariners (Cody Martin), 10:10 PM EDT