If tensions rise, Butler would play peacemaker

If tensions rise, Butler would play peacemaker

OAKLAND -- The last time the Royals and A's met, former Royal and current A's designated hitter Billy Butler was put in an awkward spot.

When the benches cleared more than once in that tension-filled series, Butler wasn't quite sure how to react. He wasn't about to leap in and start swinging at his old teammates, players he still calls friends. But he couldn't back down, either, and lose the trust of his new teammates.

"I would have tried my best, unless someone was throwing punches at me, to just separate everyone," he said Friday. "I would have just tried to get everyone out of there because I know tempers were flaring on both sides."

Having ties to both sides now, Butler found himself being diplomatic about the issues between the teams, especially the event that triggered all the bad blood -- Brett Lawrie's vicious slide into Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar in the Friday night game.

"I can admit there was wrong on both sides," Butler said. "Now I have really good friends on both sides and I can say that.

"I know Brett and he had no malicious intentions. It was a rough slide. It was overly aggressive. But I thought he wore it when he got hit by [Yordano] Ventura on Saturday. I really thought it was done there. That is why I was more or less in shock that Sunday it happened again."

On Sunday, Butler again found him charging, along with his A's teammates, out of the dugout toward his former friends with the Royals.

"I mean, me and Greg Holland are really close," he said. "We used to hang out just about every day the whole time I was there. So that was hard. But I will say, there were times when we have been [angry] at each other, too. It happens to friends. It's the heat of the battle."

But would Butler really have taken a swing at one of his old pals?

"That would be pretty bad," he said, smiling. "I'd have to be really mad. Really, I'd be more likely to try and protect people. I am a member of the Oakland A's now. I have to protect my own teammates."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.