Former Twins third baseman, known here for an excellent rookie season, a not-so-excellent second season and plenty of “swag” before being dispatched off the roster in 2012 while batting just .198 has turned himself into a quite useful major league hitter. As a regular with Oakland this year, he has 15 homers and a .302 batting average.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? Per a report out of the bay area, Valencia and teammate Billy Butler (pictured during happier times earlier this month) got into some sort of altercation recently that caused Butler to miss playing time. Per the SF Chronicle:
No one in the Oakland clubhouse would discuss the matter on the record, but no one denied that it occurred, either. “No comment,” Valencia said Sunday after the team’s 4-2 loss to the White Sox. “What happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.“
Have to love the variation on the “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” slogan from Valencia there. But still: what happened, exactly, to cause these teammates to reportedly fight? That’s probably the weirdest part of it, per an updated story citing two anonymous players who witnessed the showdown. Butler reportedly stepped in the middle of a conversation between Valencia and an equipment representative, potentially messing up an endorsement deal. The two exchanged words, and then this:
One player said that the men leaned in, bumped heads and then started pushing each other, Valencia started swinging and hit Butler in the temple. After the players broke things up, Butler told the players he was OK. Butler, who then took part in batting practice, was not scheduled to play that night against right-hander James Shields, missed the next two games against left-handed starters with what manager Bob Melvin described as nausea and vomiting.
Seems like a bizarre thing to start a fight about, but then again: I’ve never played the game at the MLB level and my last fistfight was in elementary school.