Houston Astros outfielder Nori Aoki returned to Kauffman Stadium on Monday for the first time since playing for the Royals in the 2014 World Series.
“I was very happy here, I have nothing but good memories here,” Aoki said through translator Koskue Inaji. “I’ll never forget helping the team and the fans going crazy during the postseason. I love Kansas City.”
Aoki, 35, had eight hits during the Royals’ 2014 postseason run, which ended in a Game 7 loss to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Since then, he’s had one-year stints with the Giants and Seattle Mariners before the Astros claimed him off waivers in November.
He inched closer to history with one hit on Monday, leaving him just four away from 2,000 combined in the majors and Japan. His first MLB season was with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011.
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“My mind-set doesn’t change even though I’m approaching 2,000 hits,” Aoki said. “We’re playing the game the right way. I don’t think about the personal stuff.”
With the Astros lineup full of stars, manager A.J. Hinch continues to insert Aoki in the No. 9 spot, where he holds a .258 batting average and .308 on-base percentage, with 31 hits and 11 runs in 120 at-bats.
“It’s unbelievable,” Aoki said about the Astros’ MLB-best 11-game winning streak going into Tuesday. “I’m just trying to get hits to contribute here and help the team win.”