Billy Butler is a designated hitter in the truest sense of the word. (All right, two words.) That’s his role and what he does. It is why he was an All-Star a year ago and a Silver Slugger recipient.

That’s what makes this season, to this point, so difficult. Too often, Butler isn’t getting the chance to perform his designated role -- even on those days when the elements permit the Royals to play.

“I’m not getting nearly the number of pitches to drive that I have in the past,” he said. “They’re few and far between. That’s why my walks are off the charts. I can’t make them throw it in the strike zone.”

Butler does lead the Royals with 18 walks; nobody else has more than 10. His .414 on-base percentage also tops the club. Both totals rank among the league leaders.

“It’s all about avoiding outs,” he said. “I’m not going to go out of the zone. That’s the mentality I have to have -- that I’m not going to go out of the zone. But it’s a consistent battle every day. I want to be aggressive.”

Every so often, he slips.

“Trust me,” he said, “I’m up there ready to swing. I’ve gotten a few pitches to hit where I’ve fouled it straight back. Or I pop it straight up to right center or left center.