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.
Yost confident in slumping Hochevar, Hosmer
KANSAS CITY -- Luke Hochevar is in a rut.
That's what manager Ned Yost is calling it after his starting pitcher allowed another huge inning in Sunday's 10-4 loss to the Yankees. Hochevar surrendered six runs to New York in the third inning, and the game marked the third time this season he's allowed at least seven runs.
It's been two consecutive bad starts for Hochevar, who gave up nine runs total and five runs in the first inning of the Royals' game against the Tigers on Tuesday.
Before Monday's game with the Red Sox, Yost said he's trying to figure out what's going on.
"We're just trying to get to the root of why big innings happen," Yost said. "We talked yesterday a little bit. It could be just as simple as he's in a slump. There were times yesterday when he wasn't duplicating his mechanics, which is very important, to be able to have some consistency in delivering your pitches."
Even with the struggles this season -- Hochevar's ERA stands at 9.00 -- Yost said he doesn't think anything drastic needs to be done, and he said he has plenty of confidence in the right-hander.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Luke Hochevar," Yost said. "He's had two bad starts. He had a bad start here Opening Day. He's had two back-to-back bad starts that erupted in big innings. ... You don't bail on guys like that because of two bad starts. The smart thing to do is to continue to work to get him out of it."
Yost feels the same way about another slumping Royal: Eric Hosmer. The first baseman is a daily fixture in the heart of the Royals' lineup, yet his batting average is well south of the Mendoza Line at .185 entering Monday's game. He's hitting just .108 since April 26, but Yost sees Hosmer hitting the ball hard and believes a rebound is just around the corner.
"This kid is putting together good at-bats," Yost said. "If you go over the course of the series and look at how many hard outs he's making, there's a bunch of them -- and that's what you want guys to do. You want guys to go up there, hit the ball hard and the law of averages will even themselves out, which tells me that he's due a lot of base hits."
More impressive to Yost has been Hosmer's attitude during his rough patch at the plate.
"He's doing a real nice job of not getting too frustrated," Yost said. "He gets a little frustrated during the game, but at the beginning of the day, he's very positive. He's not, 'Woe is me.' No signs of that. I've been very proud of him."
Mullen named Royals' Honorary Bat Girl
KANSAS CITY -- Major League Baseball announced the winners of the 2012 Honorary Bat Girl program on Monday.
The program recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and are committed to fighting the disease. One winner was announced for each team, and they will be recognized with an on-field ceremony at ballparks on Mother's Day, which is Sunday.
The Royals' winner is Lori Mullen, and since the club is out of town on Mother's Day, she will be recognized prior to the club's May 18 game vs. the D-backs.
Reliever Greg Holland will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday morning. The Naturals take on Tulsa at 11 a.m. CT. Holland has been on the disabled list since April 21 with a left rib stress reaction.
Irving Falu had a dazzling debut for the Royals on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a triple against the Yankees in his first Major League game. Falu became the player with the most Minor League games played before his Royals debut, with 949. He took over the crown from Mike Brewer.
Minor League outfielder Wil Myers hit a home run in Sunday's game against Tulsa. It was his ninth home run in 27 games this season. He only amassed eight home runs in 99 games last season.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.