KANSAS CITY -- For Mike Aviles, a Red Sox road trip to Kansas City means a return to the city he called home for nearly four years.
Aviles and the Red Sox are in Kansas City for three games to face the Royals, and Boston's starting shortstop will be taking the Kauffman Stadium field as a visitor for the second series since being traded last year.
"It feels good [to be back]. Last year was a little weird. This time isn't as weird, but it definitely feels good," Aviles said before Monday's game. "It's always good to see the guys and come back to where you started. I'm excited. I got a good sleep [Sunday] night. I wanted to make sure I got a good sleep so I could be extra hyper [Monday]. I like coming here. I always like playing in this park."
In four seasons with the Royals, Aviles hit .286 and played in more than 300 games. Kansas City traded Aviles to Boston on July 30 last season in exchange for Minor League pitcher Kendal Volz, who is with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and infielder Yamaico Navarro, who's now with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It isn't too much of a stretch to say that the trade has worked out well for both Aviles and Boston. Aviles only appeared in 53 of the Royals' first 104 games before being dealt, but he has since become the Sox's everyday shortstop. He's having a very nice season, hitting five home runs and driving in 19 runs entering Monday's game. His 20 runs scored and three stolen bases lead the team.
"Every time I come to the field, I feel like I've got to prove everything," Aviles said. "I feel like I've proven that I can play on an everyday basis in the big leagues, and I feel like I still need to prove it, because that's just my personality. I just like to prove people wrong, and I like to come out and try to do my best."
Monday wasn't the first trip back for Aviles. Last year after being traded, he started every game of a three-game series against the Royals in Kansas City. In his first game back at Kauffman Stadium since the trade, Aviles went 1-for-4, including a single to center field in his first at-bat against Luke Hochevar. Aviles didn't remember much about the game, but he did remember that he used third baseman Mike Moustakas' bat. Aviles explained that his bat wasn't working for him, so he used his former teammate's.
Aviles said that the biggest difference between Kansas City and Boston is the increased exposure and the larger contingent of media and fans, but the game's the same, he said.
"It's still baseball, whether you're putting on a Red Sox uniform or a Royals uniform," said Aviles.