Eddie Butler went to bed late Thursday in St. Louis with no idea that the Chicago Cubs had included him in a trade with the Texas Rangers for Cole Hamels.
Butler found out first thing Friday morning.
“I wake up to a phone call that I’ve been traded,” he said Saturday.
If that doesn’t get the blood flowing, nothing will. Butler is also wide-eyed to the potential opportunity that awaits him.
He wants to be a major-league starting pitcher, which he has been most of his short career, and the Rangers are going to give him that opportunity.
“It’s a new start, and I might get some opportunities to start,” Butler said. “We all started out starting, and it’s always a big change to go to the bullpen. For now, I’ll take whatever innings I can get. I’ll be in the bullpen for now, and we’ll evaluate options later on.”
General manager Jon Daniels said on Friday that there is nothing preventing Butler from becoming a starter. Butler has started in 39 of his 57 career appearances, and the Rangers have only one starter under contract for next season.
The Rangers believe that Butler has made some changes in his delivery and approach to pitching after being traded from the worst pitcher’s park in MLB at Colorado to the Cubs. He knows the importance of being up in the count.
“I think a lot of it has just been mentality. Really what’s happened is when I was with Colorado I kind of nitpicked and tried to hit too corners early in the counts and found myself behind a lot of the time. That’s never good anywhere, but especially Colorado.”
Butler can still be a bit too wild, as he showed Friday in his Rangers debut. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches and allowed a single before getting the next three hitters for a scoreless eighth inning.
He has issued eight walks in 18 2/3 innings this season and 105 in 232 2/3 career innings, dating to his rookie season in 2014.
The Rockies made Butler the 46th overall pick in the 2012 draft, three years after the Rangers selected him in the 36th round. Butler said that both sides understood that the money being offered that deep in the draft wasn’t enough to keep him from going to Radford College.
“It was kind of, ‘Hey, thanks for drafting me. Hopefully we can get together somewhere down the road,’” Butler said.
Lo and behold, that’s what has happened.