KANSAS CITY -- Mike Aviles does not harbor any hard feels about the Royals. Standing at his locker inside Kauffman Stadium's visitors' clubhouse, the Tribe infielder is happy that his former team is finally experiencing success on the field.
The Indians entered Tuesday's game against Kansas City a half-game back of Texas for the American League's second Wild Card spot. Kansas City was only two games behind Cleveland in both the AL Central and Wild Card races.
"I think it's awesome," Aviles said. "I think it's great to see they've changed everything around. They've got some good pitching. They've always had a good team, but it always felt like they were a couple pitchers away. There was always something that held them back."
Aviles -- selected by Kansas City in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft -- suited up for the Royals in the big leagues in parts of the 2008-11 sesons. During that time, Kansas City averaged more than 92 losses per season. In fact, the Royals lost at least 90 games in 10 of the past 12 seasons, entering this year.
Aviles said the keys to Kansas City's turnaround were the trades that brought starters James Shields, Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie into the fold.
"We had [Zack] Greinke and Gil [Meche] for a little while," Aviles said. "But you've got three guys there now. They've always had a good 'pen. The 'pen has always been good and we always were able to hit. But it was one of those things where you just couldn't win games. That rotation they're rolling out there now, it's night and day compred to what we had going on when I was here."
Aviles, who was traded from the Royals to the Red Sox during the 2011 season, felt Kansas City was showing signs of improvement when he was shipped to Boston.
"It's just the atmosphere, the culture," he said. "You can see it. Even when I was leaving, you could tell they were heading in the right direction. They were trying to change the culture. They had young guys coming up and they were adding pieces here and there. Now, they're going to start expecting to win every year."