At the plate, the Oakland Athletics have been punchless this season. In the clubhouse, the team apparently has a lot of fight. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, designated hitter Billy Butler missed two games against the Chicago White Sox after being injured during an altercation with teammate Danny Valencia.
The details are scarce at the moment, according to the report. No one in the team’s clubhouse is willing to speak about the incident on the record, but no one has come out and denied it. Valencia opted to “no comment” the issue, telling Slusser, “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.”
Based on what Slusser has heard, however, things don’t sound great for Butler.
Manager Bob Melvin would not comment on the incident, which occurred Friday night, according to sources. Melvin said Saturday only that Butler was out with nausea and vomiting, but he specifically ruled out the flu when asked if that was Butler’s ailment.
Nausea and vomiting typically are among the symptoms of concussions.
Yikes! That seems pretty awful.
Obviously, we can’t speculate much on the incident, but if Butler has a concussion as a result of a clubhouse fight with a teammate, that’s pretty horrible. That’s not the type of injury that can just be brushed off, so there has to be some concern for Butler at the moment.
On top of that, it reflects poorly on the clubhouse in Oakland. As Slusser notes in her piece, Butler and Valencia were teammates with the Kansas City Royals, and both “engage in a great deal of loud banter in the clubhouse and on the field.”
It’s possible that this is an instance where two big personalities clashed and things got physical. It’s also possible Butler and Valencia just don’t get along. Those types of issues are only exacerbated in a losing environment.
Given the team’s 53-71 record and the unrest in the clubhouse, it’s reasonable to wonder whether manager Bob Melvin will come under fire. The A’s played well under Melvin from 2011 to 2014, but things have taken a turn over the past two seasons. Despite the club’s struggles last year, Melvin received a two-year extension from the club last September. His current contract runs through the 2018 season.
As of right now, all three men are expected back next season. Both Butler and Melvin are under contract, while Valencia will enter his third year of arbitration. Friday’s alleged altercation may have changed those plans. Unless something changes in the clubhouse, it’s tough to envision all three members of the trio donning A’s jerseys next year.
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