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

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

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

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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:

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”