GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There is a red, white and blue glove that rests at the top of Francisco Lindor's locker. It is his gamer, the one that has helped the young shortstop become one of baseball's budding superstars. Amid his growing fame, the glove also helps Lindor stay grounded.Just to
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There is a red, white and blue glove that rests at the top of Francisco Lindor's locker. It is his gamer, the one that has helped the young shortstop become one of baseball's budding superstars. Amid his growing fame, the glove also helps Lindor stay grounded.
Just to the right of the pocket -- next to the "BC," which stands for Be Consistent -- is a small red ribbon stitched into the white leather. That is Lindor's daily reminder that, no matter how great things have been going for him, there are people dealing with real struggles. Specifically, the ribbon is a constant reminder of what his sister went through last summer.
"She's my big sister," Lindor said quietly. "I love her."
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Family is immensely important to Lindor.
Ask Lindor about his defense, and he will weave tales of how his father hit him grounders from atop a small hill near their home in Puerto Rico when he was a kid. Ask about his competitiveness, and Lindor will talk about how he always pushed to keep up with his older brother and cousin. Lindor will rave about his mom's cooking, and flash that signature smile when talking about his nieces and nephew.
Roughly two weeks before the All-Star break last season, Lindor found out that his older sister, Legna, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. His sister -- a mom to two daughters and a son -- lives in Florida with Lindor's mother. As Lindor was closing in on his first career All-Star appearance, his family was suddenly dealt a daunting blow.
The next day, Lindor began to recite the same prayer he says before each game.
"Bless those people who are going through tough times.
Let them understand that nothing happens for no reason.
Everything has a purpose and help them deal with it."
This time, though, Lindor stopped in the middle of his prayer.
"Throughout the whole day I was wondering, 'Why? Why is this happenening to her?'" Lindor said. "And then the next day, as I was praying, I stopped in the middle. It was like, I always ask for this, but now that it's happening to me, I can't comprehend it. I felt like a hypocrite."
The prayer now applied to him and his family.
Lindor had to keep his own words in mind -- that everything has a purpose. Over the next three months, the Indians shortstop kept checking in on his sister, while balancing the daily grind of a baseball season. And, this was not just any season for Cleveland. The Indians were running to an American League Central title, and on their way to a deep postseason run.
When Lindor would call Legna, he would not discuss her treatment. He just wanted to talk, to be her little brother.
"I just wanted to be there for her. That's what I did," Lindor said. "I just tried to make sure that I was there for her and for my nieces and nephew. I would stay in touch. Just ask her how she's doing. Nothing crazy. Just normal conversation. I didn't want to have her thinking about it too much, and she didn't want me thinking about it too much."
While Cleveland fought its way through the playoffs -- defeating Boston and Toronto to reach the World Series -- Lindor's family had its own battle going on behind the scenes. Lindor found himself thrust onto the national stage, but also found a way to keep everything else that was going on away from the spotlight.
Prior to Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, Lindor received some good news while on his way to Progressive Field.
"She beat it," he said with a smile. "I found out she was healthy."
"Everything has a purpose."
The small red ribbon on Lindor's glove reminds him of that every day.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.