The 29-year-old had only two home runs in his first 337 at-bats, but has four in his last 35. He has hit in 11 of his last 12 games after Tuesday. During the Royals' last homestand, he hit .520 (13-for-25) with seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
Aviles said his elbow has been feeling better than ever over the past month. He had Tommy John surgery in July 2009, and rushed back to be ready for Spring Training. But through the first portion of the season, Aviles said he was still feeling pain when throwing and hitting. That's not much of a surprise, considering it takes most pitchers 9-to-12 months before they are even throwing again, while Aviles was back after only seven months.
However, the pain has subsided and Aviles has found himself in quite a groove offensively.
"All year has been an up and down battle with my elbow," Aviles said. "I've just been feeling myself out and trying to help the team as much as I can. Early in the year, I just felt like I couldn't drive the ball [like] I wanted to. And I really couldn't throw the ball as hard as I wanted to, either. Slowly but surely, I'm starting to settle in and get better, and feel better."
Knowing he's going to be in the lineup everyday for the past week has helped, too.
"Throughout the year, I've been not knowing if I'm going to play the next day or not, and that's a little frustrating at times because I feel like I can help the team on a daily basis," Aviles said. "But that's just the nature of the beast. It's unfortunate what happened with Getz, but knowing I'm going to be in the lineup every day helps mentally and it helps me as far as how I'm playing."
Manager Ned Yost said he's seen improvements from Aviles at the plate lately. But he wants to see Aviles work on the defensive aspect of his game. If he's able to make strides, Yost said Aviles may be a candidate to move to third base next season.
"He's played [third base] before," Yost said. "For me, at times and most of the time, with the exception of the last week, he struggled with balls hit hard right at him. At third base, you can't struggle with balls hit hard right at you. It just doesn't work. It's something that we've talked about and we are working on addressing it. If he can get some work and he can handle those balls, which I'm fairly confident he can, then he'd be a good candidate to play some over there next year."