Aoki gets warm ovation from Astros fans

Aoki gets warm ovation from Astros fans

HOUSTON -- Norichika Aoki made his Blue Jays debut in the eighth inning on Friday night against the Astros club that traded him five days prior, and the Minute Maid Park fans gave him a heartfelt ovation before his only at-bat.

Traded from the Astros to the Blue Jays before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Aoki appreciated the fans' gesture during the 16-7 Houston win.

"It feels different," Aoki said before Friday's game through a translator. "First of all, the colors are different. But the players are all great guys. They treat me really well. ... It's going to be nice to see familiar faces on the other side and play against them. It's fun. It's exciting."

By the time Aoki made his debut as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning, the game was well out of hand.

Yet, if there was a moment that approached the volume of the Astros' nine-run fourth inning, it was the ovation for Aoki when he came to bat in the ninth.

"Yeah, too little of time to face my old team," he joked after his debut. "No, it actually made me focus a little more. I appreciate everything from the Astros fans."

Aoki, who grounded out to short to end the game, said he was surprised by the trade after being a featured left fielder for a large portion of 2017.

But Aoki said he's beginning to settle in and feel more comfortable in Toronto's clubhouse. 

"It should be a matter of time before I feel at home here, too," he said. "You can't turn the page immediately as soon as you find out. But the way I live my life is to try to take every positive and move forward."

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. He covered the Blue Jays on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.