Maddon said Buttrey, 28, “has chosen to walk away from the game for right now.”
Buttrey was optioned by the Angels on Sunday. He failed to make this year’s opening-day roster after becoming a mainstay in the team’s bullpen during his first three seasons in the majors.
Despite strong seasons in 2018 and 2019, Buttrey struggled in 2020, posting a 5.81 earned-run average and recording four blown saves. This spring, Maddon said Buttrey still lacked consistency with his fastball command but was hopeful the hard-throwing right-hander would benefit from continued work at the team’s Tempe, Ariz., alternate site (where minor league players are training until their season begins next month) and could rejoin the big league roster later this season.
Instead, Buttrey failed to report. The decision surprised Maddon, who said there had originally been “no indication at all that this would be something that he would choose to do.”
Maddon hadn’t spoken with Buttrey as of Thursday afternoon — he was informed of the situation by general manager Perry Minasian — but said he and Buttrey “had a great relationship” and that he would try to contact the pitcher if he doesn’t hear from him first.
Originally a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2012, Buttrey was acquired by the Angels via a trade in July 2018 and made his major league debut two weeks later. He pitched 16 games that season, posting a 3.31 ERA, then made 72 appearances in 2019 with a 3.98 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. In addition to having one of the hardest fastballs in baseball, averaging 96 to 97 mph, he had success mixing in his slider and changeup.
Last season, however, Buttrey became one of several Angels relievers who struggled with consistency and command. In three of his first four appearances, he was charged with game-tying runs in the eighth inning or later. He strung together seven consecutive scoreless outings in August but then gave up 13 earned runs in his final 13 2/3 innings of the year.
He still began this spring looking like a lock for the opening day roster but then gave up five runs (three earned) with four walks in seven Cactus League innings.
The day he was optioned — a move that preceded several subsequent veteran additions, including Tony Watson and Steve Cishek, the Angels made to their bullpen depth last week — Maddon remained optimistic Buttrey could return to form at the alternate site.
“We just felt it was better to leave him back, give him some direction, work through different things,” Maddon said. “He’s going to be a big part of how we conclude this year.”
Now, it’s unclear what Buttrey’s future holds.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.