Shaving of heads one way Indians are showing support to Aviles

Jason Kipnis was one of the first Indians players to shave his head in support of Mike Aviles' 4-year-old daughter Adriana, who is being treated for leukemia.

Phil Long

CLEVELAND — Mike Aviles is considered to be one of the best clubhouse guys in the league as far as being a good teammate. Since Aviles returned to the Indians’ roster last Monday, his teammates have stepped up for him.

After seeing that Aviles shaved his head to support his 4-year old daughter, Adriana, who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month, almost all the players and coaches in the clubhouse have followed suit.

Aviles missed eight games from May 8-17 to help care for his daughter while she was starting to go through treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. He rejoined the team on May 19 when the Indians began a four-game series at Chicago and Adriana returned home to continue treatment.

"It’s kind of cool when you have your whole team on your side," Aviles said before Wednesday’s game against Texas. It goes without saying, everybody in here has families and they know how it is. It’s a tough time, but to know that my team, the coaching staff, everybody, is on my family’s side and my little girl’s side, it helps out a lot and makes me feel good."

Jason Kipnis was the first to speak about it after Tuesday’s game, saying that Adriana will soon be starting chemotherapy and losing her hair, so the team wanted to show their support. Kipnis, Nick Swisher and Jose Ramirez were among the first ones to don buzzcuts and everyone pretty much followed suit.

Some have gone with buzzcuts while others like pitching coach Mickey Callaway opted for the complete shave.

"I don’t have any hair up there so if I went half, I’d have a little island up there. I had to shave it all the way," he said.

Callaway, who has a cousin who recently went through cancer, said it was important for the team to know that Aviles has their support.

"She can look up and say, ‘Hey, those guys really care about us.’ That’s the point of it all," Callaway said.

It is the first time that Aviles has talked about his daughter and her illness since returning.

Since returning to the team, he has preferred that interviews remain focused on baseball.

Aviles also added that "it kills me not to be home the entire time. At the same time, I know my wife is a great mom. I have to get back and do the things that help provide for the family. It’s definitely an interesting time. 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."

In six games since returning, Aviles is 7-for-17 with a home run and two RBI. His .368 average is tied with David Murphy for the best batting average by an Indians’ player over the past nine days. He has had a hit in all but two games.

Manager Terry Francona said the team left Aviles alone during the week he was away but that there were times during the homestand that Aviles would come in and work out for an hour while Adriana was getting treatment.

"I think it’s good for him — I really do. I think it’s healthy for him," Francona said. "That’s not the easiest thing to do, when you’re sitting around for a while, to play four in a row. But, he keeps himself in good shape and he works hard. I do think the games have been good for him also — a little bit of a release and a place to go. And he knows he’s got some people that care about him."