CLEVELAND (AP) _ Cleveland Indians infielder Mike Aviles is touched by the show of support he’s getting from teammates for his 4-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia this month.
Several Indians players and coaches have shaved their heads to support Aviles and Adriana, who returned home after treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
“It means a lot for me,” Aviles said. “It shows I’m kind of liked, or my daughter is, anyway. In all honesty, it’s kind of cool when you have your whole team on your side.”
Aviles shaved his head soon after his daughter entered the hospital.
“She knows that Daddy did it,” he said. “She thinks it’s funny. She doesn’t understand it, but she knows that Daddy did it.”
Aviles’ new look initially didn’t get a positive reaction.
“At first, she didn’t like the way my head looked,” he said. “The more she looks at it, she’s like, `I like it. It looks cool.’ I’m like, `All of Daddy’s friends did it, too.’ Little by little, she’ll understand.”
Aviles missed eight games from May 8-17. The Indians placed him on the Family Medical Emergency list for seven days and then moved him to the restricted list. He rejoined the team May 18.
Aviles says it’s been an emotional time for his family. Adriana has a twin sister, Mayia. Aviles also has an older daughter, Kyla.
“It kills me not to be home the entire time,” Aviles said. “At the same time, I know my wife is a great mom. She’s doing a great job with her, so everything is good at home. The way I see it is, she’s going to fight and I’ll be right there with her. It’s good to know that we have a lot of support on her side.”
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was one of the first players to shave his head and others soon followed.
“It’s a team thing,” Kipnis said. “It started with Mike’s daughter because of what she’s going through. Unfortunately, she’s going to be losing her hair soon from chemotherapy, and we all wanted to join in.”
Indians manager Terry Francona is pleased with the support for Aviles and his family. Francona and bench coach Brad Mills have gone with the shaved-head look for several years.
“I know probably some people look at shaved heads as juvenile or whatever, but it’s a bunch of guys that really care about their teammate,” Francona said. “A lot of guys probably don’t even know Adriana, but because it’s Mikey’s daughter she’s important to all of us. I think it’s a way to take something that’s very serious, makes you step back and think.
“I guarantee you when she sees pictures of all these guys, she’s going to smile.”