When the World Series shifted to San Francisco, Royals manager Ned Yost shifted Nori Aoki to the bench, opting to start Jarrod Dyson in the outfield during the three games at AT&T Park.
Aoki did appear as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning of game four, grounding into a 3-6-3 double play, and entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning of game five.
Otherwise, he was a spectator.
“Everyone wants to be able to start a game, so it wasn’t fun not being able to start the game in San Francisco, but I tried to bring that to the game today and play as hard as I could today,” Aoki said through translator Kosuke Inaji.
Returning to Kauffman Stadium, Aoki returned to his familiar role as the starting right fielder, batting second in the Royals’ lineup.
If the layoff affected him, Aoki got it out of his system with a first-inning strikeout.
“The first at-bat, my eyes weren’t really used to seeing the ball as well as they were, but made the adjustment from there,” Aoki said.
During a seven-run second inning, Aoki delivered a key at-bat against Giants starter Jake Peavy, who got ahead 0-1 with an 88 mph cutter inside.
Aoki then fouled off four of the next five pitches, including back-to-back cutters after falling behind in the count 1-2.
On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Aoki slapped a 91 mph fastball past Pablo Sandoval, who was in at the cut of the grass, through the hole at shortstop for an RBI single.
Aoki later scored on a two-run double by Eric Hosmer and added a third-inning walk before he was pulled for Dyson in Yost’s typical late-game defensive switch with the Royals leading 9-0 after the fifth inning.