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The hair has gotten much shorter and the bonds have gotten much stronger for the Cleveland Indians as they show support for the 4-year-old daughter of shortstop Mike Aviles while she battles leukemia.
Indians players and coaches have been shaving their heads or sporting new buzz cuts for Aviles' daughter, Adriana, who is being treated at the Cleveland Clinic after being diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month. Aviles rejoined the team on May 18 after missing eight games while on family medical emergency leave to be with Adriana.
"It's a team thing,'' Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis told reporters at Tuesday night's game. "It started kind of with Mike Aviles' daughter, for her, what she's going through. She's going to, unfortunately, be losing her hair soon here to chemo and so we all kind of wanted to join in, and it started with a couple and then spread throughout the whole clubhouse. It wasn't all in one day, just periodically, more guys were getting in on it and going through that."
As Aviles, who has two other daughters, goes through an emotional time, he has been performing at the top of his game on the field, batting .368 with a home run and two RBI since returning to the team. He appreciates the show of support by his teammates.
"It means a lot for me," Aviles told ESPN. "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. 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."
Aviles has also shaved his own head to support Adriana.
"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."