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Players Weekend gives plenty to 'Smile' about

Lindor, Indians enjoy showing personalities with special jerseys, gear
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Prior to the Indians' 4-0 win in the series opener against the Royals on Friday night at Progressive Field, shortstop Francisco Lindor walked around the clubhouse and looked at the nicknames on the backs of each of his teammates' jerseys. They will be sporting colorful, non-traditional jerseys all weekend as a part of Major League Baseball's first Players Weekend.

Every team in the Majors will wear unique uniforms Friday through Sunday, featuring nicknames chosen by the players on the backs. Lindor (aka "Mr. Smile") expressed his excitement surrounding the weekend.

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CLEVELAND -- Prior to the Indians' 4-0 win in the series opener against the Royals on Friday night at Progressive Field, shortstop Francisco Lindor walked around the clubhouse and looked at the nicknames on the backs of each of his teammates' jerseys. They will be sporting colorful, non-traditional jerseys all weekend as a part of Major League Baseball's first Players Weekend.

Every team in the Majors will wear unique uniforms Friday through Sunday, featuring nicknames chosen by the players on the backs. Lindor (aka "Mr. Smile") expressed his excitement surrounding the weekend.

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Indians Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com

Tweet from @Indians: #PlayersWeekend threads: pic.twitter.com/ga3VNwfE1T

"[I'm excited about] everything," said Lindor, who went 2-for-4 with a home run and some slick glove work in Friday's win. "The vibe -- it kind of feels like Little League. The first time you see the names on the backs, and everyone is going around the locker room to see the different names -- I think it's pretty cool."

Video: KC@CLE: Lindor smacks a two-run home run to left

Lindor said that he has several nicknames that he could have chosen for his Players Weekend jersey, but he ultimately chose "Mr. Smile" for the fans.

Explaining Indians Players Weekend names

"I just felt like 'Mr. Smile' is something that people are going to relate more with," Lindor said.

Tweet from @MLB: Only the freshest threads for the @Indians on #PlayersWeekend. pic.twitter.com/UTFRLGC8pA

The special jerseys also have a patch on the right sleeve that portrays a Little Leaguer's progression to the Majors. The patch includes a white space where players can write the name or names of people they are thankful for in helping them reach the big leagues. In Lindor's case, he wrote down God and the names of some of his family members.

Video: KC@CLE: Indians players celebrate Players Weekend

What you need to know for Players Weekend

"Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today," Lindor said.

Along with the special uniforms, players will wear flashy socks, cleats and batting gloves. In addition, players will be using specially made bats of their choosing. Indians first baseman Carlos Santana (aka "Slamtana") will be using a bat that honors his native homeland of the Dominican Republic. Third baseman Jose Ramirez and outfielder Abraham Almonte (aka "El Varon") had matching blue bats, each of which had a red feather on the barrel.

"It's a cool idea from MLB," Indians reliever Zach McAllister (aka "Z-Mac) said. "It's fun for the players, I think. It's something we haven't done before, and it kind of brings us back to when we were little kids. Being able to wear different cleats, wear different jerseys, go by our nicknames and things like that -- [it's cool.]"

Indians manager Terry Francona (aka "Tito") concurred.

"I think it's a good thing," Francona said. "I think Major League Baseball is always trying to find ways to maybe reach the younger crowd. ... I don't see anything remotely wrong with it. I think everybody seems to be having fun with it."

The game-worn jerseys will later be auctioned at MLB.com/auctions, with 100 percent of the net proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, which was established in 2015. The joint venture of MLB and the MLBPA had an initial commitment of $30 million, focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs in the United States and Canada.

After his pregame news conference on Friday, a good-spirited Francona joked with members of the media about their nicknames.

"How come you guys aren't wearing the nicknames tonight?" Francona quipped. "I could nickname you guys. How would that be? Please?"

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor