PITTSBURG, Kan. — Billy Butler is going to leave the prognostication to the other guys.
Butler, the Kansas City Royals 2009 player of the year, says the team is improved heading into the ’10 campaign.
During a media session that was part of Monday’s Royals Caravan stop here, Butler was asked if the improvements means the team possibly win as many as 82 games this season.
"I am not going to get into projections," he said. "I play baseball for a living… that’s for you guys (members of the media) to do. We’re just going to go out there and be optimistic, win as many ballgames as we can and play fundamental baseball. We let other people talk about that kind of stuff.
"We hope we make it easy for you guys to write good stuff about us instead of going down the path of year’s past. It’s time to change it around."
The Royals had high hopes heading into the 2009 season thanks to several free agent acquisitions.
The team started fast but faded, winning only 65 times.
On the positive side, Zach Greinke won the American League Cy Young Award despite playing for a last-place team.
Butler likes the direction the team is taking under general manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman.
"We’re moving in the right direction," Butler said. "There’s a lot of young talent and along with that, you are going to have some growing pains. Growing pains turn into learning experiences where we build on them. We’re starting to learn from our mistakes."
Joining Butler on the Caravan’s southern swing were outfielder Mitch Maier, Royals Hall of Famers Frank White and John Mayberry and Royals broadcaster Steve Stewart.
The group was in Clinton, Springfield and Branson Sunday. They stopped in Springdale, Ark., Monday morning before making appearances here and in Fort Scott.
"It’s always important to reach out to the fans and show them that we care and that we’re trying to interact with them," Butler said. "This is always a special thing. It shows we are normal people, too, just out to play the game that we love — except we’re doing it for a living."
Butler hit .301 with 21 home runs, 51 doubles and 93 RBI in 2009 for Kansas City.
He turned down a scholarship to the University of Florida after being drafted by the Royals with the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft.
He played mostly in the outfield during his whirlwind trip through Kansas City’s minor league system, but has settled in at first base.
"I used to play first base in high school," he said. "I still have only one year under my belt at first, so I am just starting to show what I’ve got. I am just getting comfortable there."