Nine months after abruptly retiring at just 28 years old, former Angels reliever Ty Buttrey announced in a Twitter Spaces event on Sunday that he plans to make a return to baseball in 2022.
In a lengthy Instagram post last April, Buttrey cited a lack of motivation as the reasoning behind his decision to walk away, saying that he lost the drive to continue playing after accomplishing his primary goal of reaching the majors. During his chat today, though, he said that his passion for baseball started to come back while coaching kids during his time off and progressively grew stronger as time went on, eventually reaching the point where he decided for sure that he wanted to make his return.
Buttrey mentioned that he hopes that his comeback will be with the Angels, but also that the ball ultimately lies in the team’s court in that regard. He is still technically under contract with the Halos (he was placed on the restricted list and not released after his announcement), but their decision on whether to have him back or not will have to wait a while due to the ongoing lockout around the league.
Prior to his retirement, Buttrey had spent parts of three seasons with the Angels, pitching to a 4.30 ERA in 115 career innings. The last we saw of him was in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, where he struggled mightily in his role as a high-leverage reliever. His finest hour in Anaheim, though, came in the only full season of his career in 2019, where he posted a 3.98 ERA in 72 games. He was especially good early that year, utilizing his upper 90s fastball and wipeout slider to strike out 47 batters in 38.2 innings with a 2.33 ERA through the season’s first three months.
Buttrey’s lengthy absence makes him a relative unknown in regard to what he’ll be able to provide the Angels in 2022, but if he is able to return anywhere near the form he was at in 2019, he could potentially provide a pretty big boost to the current Angels bullpen. There figures to be a couple of open spots behind Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup, Austin Warren, Mike Mayers and José Quijada as well, so if he is back with the Halos and can prove himself capable again in Spring Training, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him earn a spot right back where he was before he walked away nine months ago.