Butler wasn't in the starting lineup for Saturday's game, but was available for use as a pinch-hitter. He comes back to a team far different from the one he left.
Confusion and anger were apparent on Butler's face as he sat in front of his locker in the far corner of the clubhouse the last night he was with Kansas City.
It was May 28. The Royals had just lost to Minnesota after blowing a five-run lead in the ninth. Butler got sent down to Omaha the next day.
Butler's next appearance in a Royals uniform didn't come until Saturday. He was all smiles. The hi-def Crown Vision scoreboard captured Butler as he warmed up at first base. It is the new attitude Butler wants to show: happiness. In his words, Omaha changed him for the better.
"You learn about yourself as a person," Butler said. "I knew I had a lot of things to work on, emotional and everything. I'm happy with my life and I'm just ready to see this go."
That's not to say baseball wasn't a priority in Omaha, too. Butler struggled at the plate most of the year in Kansas City after getting off to a hot start. When he got sent down in late May, his average was at .263 and his power numbers -- one home run and 18 RBIs -- fell short of his and the team's expectations.
When the Royals sent him to Triple-A, Hillman wanted to see hard contact. He didn't care so much about Butler's numbers. Butler ended up giving Hillman what he wanted and provided some gaudy stats on top of it. In 26 games with the O-Royals, he hit .337 with six doubles, five home runs and 13 RBIs.
"I know I went through a struggle up here," Butler said, "but who doesn't? It's one of those things where I had a bad spurt with my confidence at the plate. But my confidence is back and I'll be ready whenever my chance comes."
How often that will come depends on Jose Guillen. Hillman said Butler would primarily play designated hitter for the team. If Guillen, who's banged up, continues to need duty at DH, Butler will have to settle for reserve duty.
It's unlikely he'll get too many reps at first base, his position for 21 games this season. Hillman said Ross Gload has proven to be a better defender and would continue to start as long as he continues to hit consistently.
That's fine with Butler. He's content with blending in for now, especially on a team that's won 11 of its last 12 games. It's a much better situation than the one he left, when Kansas City was on loss No. 10 of what became 12 in a row.
Butler never wanted to get sent down, but he said he never felt sorry for himself. His attitude only improved, and he insists that he'll keep that up now that he's back in Kansas City.
"I don't hold any grudges," Butler said, "and you can't. Each day I'm going to come with a new mind-set. What I want to say is, 'I'm a Kansas City Royal.' That's what I want to be and that's all I want to be. I'm going to do whatever the organization needs."