Leading up to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, the Angels shipped second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Boston Red Sox for two relief pitching prospects. The headline return was Ty Buttrey, a 6’6” flamethrower having the best season of his professional career, garnering the attention of Baseball America.
As it so happens, Buttrey took a comebacker off his knee a few days before the trade; at present, he is currently at the Angels training facility in Tempe, Arizona, finishing off some rehab work. He was kind enough to call in and talk about the excitement of getting traded, his baseball background, and weigh in on the all important In-N-Out vs. Five Guys debate.
Below is the transcript of that call. [Ed. Note: In the interest of improving the reader experience, this interview has been split into two parts. The second part will be published several hours after the first.]
First off, please give us the correct pronunciation of your last name, I’ve seen about three different ways:
“No, it happens all the time. It’s But-tree (BUTT-tree).”
Welcome to the Angels. Were you kind of surprised to hear the news that you had been traded? And how did you hear that you were traded?
“Yeah, I was actually. I think being traded, obviously there’s some momentum or thoughts coming up to the trade deadline, people talking about it. You know your teammates mention ‘hey, you might get traded’. All that stuff.
Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to happen. I didn’t really hear much. Just of the feedback I was getting. I knew I was a potential candidate. I knew the Red Sox were looking to acquire another pitcher or another hitter. I knew something was going to happen and obviously, pitching well with Pawtucket I knew I could possibly be a candidate.
We were in Syracuse playing the Chiefs and we went into the 12th inning and the trainer tapped me on the shoulder and he kind of had, like, a worried look on his face and he tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘hey, Ty, come inside real quick I got to talk to you.’ And then [Williams] Jerez got pulled early in the inning and basically they said ‘stay away from him.’
So when he got pulled, I knew something was up. I didn’t think I’d be involved in that, and then once I came in from the dugout and the trainer waived for Jerez to follow him into his office, Ben Crockett, our farm director, he told me ‘hey, you know you guys have pitched really well we’re actually going to be trading you. You’re going to be going to the Los Angels Angels.’ He said ‘we acquired Ian Kinsler’ and it is going to be you two guys.
It was crazy. I mean like just a really crazy experience. I had um, I didn’t really know what to think because I’d obviously been with the Red Sox for six years. I mean I was beyond excited. I was very happy to know another team thinks so highly of me to trade, you know, an obviously standout player.
So I’m glad to be here and help out.”
Cool story. Our bullpen has definitely not been the strength of our team, so you should have a pretty clear shot at some playing time. Have the Angels given you any indication of whether you will be a September call up or make it even sooner?
“You know, I was actually on the 7 day DL with some knee inflammation. I got hit with a comebacker back in, um probably about 10 days ago, and had to come out of the game. Nothing serious, everything checked out normal it was just something that was lingering a little bit and they wanted to make sure I could go through my delivery normally.
I threw a bullpen with Pawtucket on Monday and then I just threw a bullpen today [8/1] here in Tempe at the Spring Training complex. Threw about 25 pitches. Everything felt really good.
I’ve spoken to the pitching coach down here and the rehab head guy, Andrew, and they said as of now I’ll be throwing another bullpen Friday and then I’m going to be doing some ground ball work, some PFP’s, and maybe a simulated game on Monday.
That’s the schedule that I know of. When I was on the phone speaking with them they told me that they haven’t confirmed where I’m going. All I know is ‘hey you’re going to Arizona to throw a bullpen and go from there.’
We’ll see what happens. I don’t know where. I don’t know if they want me to do rehab appearances at a lower affiliate or if I’m going to to to Salt Lake or where. Who knows? I’m just, whatever they tell me is what I’m going to do.
I think you are going to like the Cactus League. Every stadium is within about half an hour of each other.
“Way better than Florida.”
We’ve seen your stats but don’t know much about you as a person. For starters, you’re from North Carolina and 6-foot 6, how did you end up in baseball with that size and living in the college basketball capital of the country?
“Ha ha. Yeah, coming from North Carolina, I’ve lived in Charlotte pretty much my whole life. I was born in Dayton, Ohio.
It’s kind of hard in the South just because baseball is so...I mean California, the South in general, everywhere they’re competitive but my high school was very competitive.
You know, I played basketball and football in middle school and I started growing taller, kind of lankier. I never really had experience at quarterback so that position kind of got taken off the map. Basketball, I was very athletic but you know, I just didn’t like it enough I guess to stick with it.
And baseball, once I started throwing harder my sophomore going into my junior year, I started getting some attention from some college scouts. I was like ‘alright, I could make a career out of this’, let’s see where this goes.
My high school coach, he pushed me a lot. He was very serious.
So it was kind of tough to do all three sports, I mean guys did it, but I didn’t have any intentions of wanting to mess around with basketball or football. I was focused on baseball.
I started getting taller, stronger, throwing harder, working harder and yeah, here I am.”
You chose to go directly from high school to pro ball as opposed to college. I’m always curious about why guys make that decision, one way or the other. What did it come down to for you?
“I kind of was thinking there was going to be a chance I would go in the first round, maybe second or third round. And the money that we were asking for, obviously the Red Sox, they met that and here I am.
But I was going to Arkansas, a great D1 program. I mean, the coaches there are awesome. And after the first day of the draft I had an opportunity in talking to the Cubs, Pirates, and my agent was talking to the Red Sox a lot back and forth.
After the first day I was like ‘alright.’ And this was the with the slot money, when the new slot money came out and I was set that I was going to go to college. You know, I had my bags packed and we’re sitting around and my agent calls me and says ‘hey, will you go for this amount of money?’ and I said ‘yeah.’ I said ‘absolutely. If they’re willing to give that to me in the fourth round, sign me up I’m ready to go.’
Listened to it on the TV and probably a couple of minutes later I got the call and it was official and I flew up to Boston and did all that good stuff. So that’s kind of how that went down.”
Ty is very personable, candid, and free with information. There’s definitely a good guy coming along with his high 90s fastball and killer change up.
Stay tuned for the second part of Jeff’s interview with the Angels’ newest reliever, Ty Buttrey.