GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Joey Butler was not sure how Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco would react upon seeing him for the first time this spring. When they finally crossed paths in the training room, Butler kept his eyes low and offered a quiet greeting as he walked by the big right-hander.
Carrasco found humor in the situation, just as he did back in July when Butler broke up his near no-hitter.
"He said, 'Hey, man. I'm sorry,'" Carrasco recalled with a smile. "He was kind of shaking his head. I said, 'Forget about it. It's part of baseball.'"
Butler is in camp with a shot at an outfield job after being claimed from the Rays on Dec. 7 over the offseason. While with Tampa Bay, he became forever linked to Carrasco when they squared off on July 1 at Tropicana Field last summer. The Tribe starter stood within one strike of the first no-hitter by an Indians pitcher since Len Barker's perfect game against Toronto on May 15, 1981.
That is as far as Carrasco got in his bid at history.
Carrasco spun an ill-fated slider for his 124th pitch and Butler slashed it over the flared glove of leaping second baseman Jason Kipnis. As the baseball skipped across the artificial turf in center field, Carrasco let out a yell and began laughing in the middle of the infield. The pitcher then started to clap his glove in recognition of Kipnis' effort and Butler's history-averting single.
"I made a mistake. I think I threw three sliders in a row," Carrasco said. "My slider had been good, but I just hung it a little bit and he got the base hit."
When Butler broke up Carrasco's no-no last year, what was pitcher's mistake? CC said throwing 3 sliders in a row. pic.twitter.com/xUrgOtmNAX
Courtesy of Butler's base hit, Carrasco became the first Indians pitcher since Early Wynn on July 4, 1954, to have a no-hit bid snapped at 8 2/3 innings. Carrasco was overpowering in that outing, striking out 13, generating 10 ground-ball outs and creating 30 swings and misses. Seven of Tampa Bay's at-bats ended with a slider, resulting in six outs, four via strikeout.
The lone exception came with two out in the bottom of the ninth.
Butler said he had one thought as he strolled to the plate.
"I remember thinking that he has more to lose than I do," Butler said.
Carrasco opened the at-bat with a slider, which Butler fouled off for strike one. The right-hander came back with another slider, which the former Rays outfielder swung through, slipping into an 0-2 count. At this point in the battle, Carrasco admitted that he was already thinking ahead to his celebration. The pitcher was contemplating throwing his glove in the air when the no-hitter was complete.
Butler, meanwhile, was confident he could hit the slider if Carrasco went back to it again.
"I thought I had seen it enough to recognize it from anything else," Butler said.
Butler got his third straight slider and delivered the single.
Welcome to the @Indians, Joey -- I forgive you for that single in the 9th!
In December, when the Indians claimed Butler off waivers, word quickly made its way to Carrasco that his no-hitter nemesis was now one of his teammates. The pitcher wasted no time in hopping on Twitter to let Butler know that all had been forgiven. That has continued this spring, too. On the team's photo day, the players posed for a picture together to further put last season's event behind them.
Buter, who is softspoken, has enjoyed that the moment did not create any awkwardness around the pitcher.
"It's fun. It's kind of a relationship that we already had before we even met each other," Butler said. "I wasn't really sure how he felt about it, but he's been unbelievable so far. I look forward to seeing more of that kind of stuff this year."