Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Former Red Sox pitching prospect Ty Buttrey returns to Fenway one year after Kinsler trade

Amin Touri
August 08, 2019 - 6:45 pm
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Having spent almost seven years in the Red Sox organization, Ty Buttrey has only set foot on the field at Fenway Park twice: once after he signed in 2012, and again on Thursday.

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Now with the Angels after he was part of Boston’s trade for Ian Kinsler last season, Buttrey will likely — finally — make his Fenway debut this week, seven years after the Red Sox picked him in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

"It's weird, as much time as I spent with Boston I never really got to see much of Fenway and the city… being up in Lowell and Portland and Pawtucket all those years, during the season you don't really ever get to come here,” Buttrey said Thursday. “It's a cool feeling, I really only came on the field about six years ago, this is only the second time I've been on the field, and all these big-league stadiums are different than what you think. It's a little bit smaller than I thought, I know it's a small stadium, the grandstand goes back aways — it's a cool environment. It's special, a lot of history here, it's cool to play here.”

Now 26, Buttrey has been very solid for the Angels, posting  a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings over the last six weeks of last season and reproducing that form this season, with a 3.59 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. He’s really been even better than that, with the ERA skewed by a rough three-game stretch at the end of last month — through July 23, that number was as low as 2.45, as he’s been one of the Angels’ most consistent bullpen arms.

Buttrey never got the call-up to the majors he wanted while in the Red Sox organization, having to wait for the move to Los Angeles to get his shot. It didn’t take long, as the 6-foot-6 right-hander made his debut on August 16, 2018, just two weeks after he was dealt at the deadline on July 31, a year ago last week.

"I'm sure you can look at it (as disappointing), I don't necessarily think about it that way — I was talking to my wife the other day, and it's a job,” he said. “It's a business, it's a workplace, and you move to another workplace. Obviously emotions are involved, you have a family with guys for years and years and you create these relationships and the next thing you know you're creating new relationships. I've created a great relationship with the guys here on the Angels staff, everyone's been respectful and it's been an unbelievable environment.”

Buttrey seemed to be on the cusp of a call-up in 2018, having posted a 2.25 ERA in 44 innings in Triple-A, striking out 64 batters and walking just 14 in Pawtucket. With Dustin Pedroia out of commission and Eduardo Nunez a question mark at second, Boston made a move, dealing Buttrey and Williams Jerez to Los Angeles for Kinsler. In winning the World Series, the Red Sox probably don’t have many regrets — in finally establishing himself as a big-league arm, Buttrey doesn’t either, as he remains appreciative of Boston and the organization.

"I honestly didn't think I had anything else to prove,” Buttrey said of his time in Pawtucket. “Sometimes that's how the business of this goes. Obviously the Red Sox were all in last year, they're all in this year, they have their plans, they have their development for these guys — they had a different plan for me, it is what it is. Obviously I would've liked to have been called up as any player would, but it's also opened doors to an unbelievable opportunity, something I don't think I would've had the chance to if I'd have stayed, so I'm thankful for the trade and I'm thankful for being (with the Angels)."

There’s a mild sense of irony that Buttrey is now a reliable option out of the bullpen while the Red Sox have had a season full of bullpen struggles, but he harbors no ill will towards the team that dealt him. In Boston for the first time as a major leaguer, Buttrey will get to catch up with some old teammates from his days in the Red Sox farm system, guys he grew up with as they climbed the professional ladder.

"(Michael) Chavis, I played with him a while throughout the minor leagues, Jackie Bradley is always the man, he always was just great to my wife and I. Spent a lot of time in Fort Myers hanging out, training with him,” Buttrey said. “All the guys over there, I don't have hard feelings against anyone, they all treated me with respect and the veteran guys over there were always cool to me, I never had anything bad to say, and I respect that. It's a weird feeling, it's a cool feeling, it's just different, and I'm happy to be over here."

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