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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:

New York Yankees roster and schedule for 2020

Yankees roster and schedule
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The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The New York Yankees roster and schedule:

YANKEES ROSTER (projected) 

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Yankees roster to begin the season:

Catchers

Gary Sánchez
Kyle Higashioka

Infielders:

Luke Voit
Mike Ford
DJ LeMahieu
Gio Urshela
Miguel Andújar
Gleyber Torres
Tyler Wade

Outfielders

Aaron Judge
Aaron Hicks
Giancarlo Stanton
Brett Gardner
Mike Tauchman

Starters

Gerrit Cole
Masahiro Tanaka
James Paxton
J.A. Happ
Jordan Montgomery
Jonathan Loaisiga

Relievers

Aroldis Chapman
Zack Britton
Adam Ottavino
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
Luis Cessa
Jonathan Holder
Tyler Lyons
David Hale


BREAKDOWN:

It’s weird to say this but the delay to the season due to the pandemic actually helped the Yankees a fair amount. Because of new injuries and extended rehab from older injuries, the very injured 2019 New York Yankees were poised to begin the regular season with many key players on the injured list, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and James Paxton, among others. It’s not 100% clear if all of those guys will be back and at full strength when the club starts play next week, but Stanton and Paxton seem like a go right now and Judge and Hicks are ramping up.

Obviously the biggest change for 2020, though, is Gerrit Cole, the Yankees big free agent acquisition last winter. Adding arguably the game’s best starter will take a lot of pressure off of the other guys in the rotation and ease the workload of a bullpen that, however deep and talented it is, could still use a break here and there.

With health, hopefully, not the concern it was back in March or last year, we’re left with a Yankees team that (a) has one of the most loaded lineups in the game; (b) features a much-improved rotation with a clear and solid top-four; and (c) has fantastic bullpen talent and depth. Last year’s team, despite all of the injuries, won 103 games. This year’s team is considered the favorite in the American League and, by extension, in all of baseball.

YANKEES SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

Yankees home stands will be July 29-Aug. 2 (Phillies, Red Sox), Aug. 11-20 (Braves, Red Sox, Rays), Aug. 28-Sept. 2 (Mets, Rays), Sept. 10-17 (Orioles, Blue Jays) and Sept. 25-27 (Marlins). Their rivalry games against the Red Sox will be July 31-Aug. 2 (Yankee Stadium), Aug. 14-17 (Yankee Stadium) and Sept. 18-20 (Fenway Park). Rivalry games against the Mets will be played Aug. 21-23 (Citi Field) and Aug. 28-30 (Yankee Stadium).

The entire Yankees roster and schedule can be seen here.