Royals star Billy Butler made it clear Monday that he bears Zack Greinke no ill will. But neither was he especially heartbroken, or surprised, that the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner will be plying his trade in Milwaukee in 2011.
Once Greinke made it clear late in the 2010 season that he did not expect the Royals' rebuilding efforts to bear immediate fruit, Butler figured the right-hander was on the way out of town. Greinke said in August that he did not expect the team to become competitive before his current contract ends in two years.
"There's no surprise," Butler said Monday. "This has been a controversy ever since Zack had that article that came out and he was wanting out. Whenever you do something like that, the organization has no choice but to trade you. I'm just happy that its behind us now, because if it would have kept lingering on any longer, I think it would have affected the team.
"You don't want somebody to be somewhere they don't want to. That being said, Zack made it public that he didn't want to be here anymore. As the Kansas City Royals, you don't want that around. It's not good for your team. I hope it works out for Zack in Milwaukee. I think we got some great pieces that came over."
Butler expressed enthusiasm over the newest Royals: shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi. He played against Cain when both were still amateurs, Butler in Jacksonville, Fla., and Cain in nearby Valdosta, Ga.
With Greinke's departure, Butler is at least arguably the face of the Royals. Still just 24, he's likely entering his prime and has already put up three-plus strong seasons in the big leagues. He's excited about where the franchise is headed.
"[General manager Dayton Moore] and the rest of the scouting department have done a really good job of getting really good players in the Minor Leagues from the bottom to the top," Butler said. "They're starting to get to where they can impact us at the big league level, and we just added to that. It's going to start paying some dividends."
Butler looks forward to proving some naysayers wrong in the coming seasons.
"We have our own expectations," he said. "Nobody expects anything of us, but we can't get caught up in that. We as an organization feel like we can compete. If people don't take us seriously we're going to start jumping up and biting some people."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.