HOUSTON - It isn't exactly a homecoming for Justin Maxwell, but it's close enough.
Whether or not the Royals backup sees the field during Kansas City's three-game set, the outfielder is just happy to be back in the place he called home for nearly two years.
"It's pretty different, just passing the old clubhouse and not heading in there," Maxwell said. "I had a great time with my teammates there in Houston. It was a special time."
The Astros traded Maxwell to the Royals before last season's Trade Deadline, but he has no ill will toward the organization. It's quite the opposite, in fact. Maxwell was a hugely popular player during his one and a half seasons in Houston, a sterling clubhouse guy who also connected well with community, which was desperately needed during the Astros' recent losing woes.
"Justin was a great presence here, just a quality human being," said Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. "When we traded him, we knew were giving up a guy who could potentially help [Kansas City], and he did. It's always a pleasure to see a guy like that get any break he can, and we welcome him back."
Maxwell reconnected with friend and Houston catcher Jason Castro before the game and said he would catch up with the Baseball Chapel rep for the Astros, Kevin Edelbrock.
Despite only starting one game so far this season, Maxwell said he wouldn't trade the situation he's in with Kansas City, despite his affinity for the Astros. But the outfielder's also been a Major Leaguer long enough to appreciate how nice it is to feel at home during a road series.
"They took a shot on me after I had Tommy John surgery [in 2010] and had missed a season [in 2011]," he said. "That organization gave me my first extended starting chance in the big leagues. I'll always be thankful for that."
Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.