CLEVELAND -- While many players around the Majors may be sporting the names of family members, friends or former coaches on their "thank you" patch of their Players Weekend jerseys, Indians reliever Joe Smith took a different route.Smith wrote "Help Cure HD" on the special patch on his right sleeve.
CLEVELAND -- While many players around the Majors may be sporting the names of family members, friends or former coaches on their "thank you" patch of their Players Weekend jerseys, Indians reliever Joe Smith took a different route.
Smith wrote "Help Cure HD" on the special patch on his right sleeve. It is in reference to the Help Cure HD Foundation, which Smith and his wife -- CBS and Turner Sports sideline reporter Allie LaForce -- started in 2012 to combat Huntington's disease. Smith's grandmother suffered from the disease up until her death, and his mother, Lee Smith, has battled it since she was diagnosed in '12.
"Obviously for me, I wrote it [on my patch] to help my mother, just to help everybody that has it or could be affected with it and to hopefully get rid of it," Smith said.
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The deadly disorder, which is inherited in families, affects nerve cells in the brain, causing symptoms such as involuntary movements, cognitive impairment and physical disability. There is no known cure for Huntington's disease, but Smith and LaForce's foundation helps to both spread awareness of the disease and raise money to help fund research for a cure.
Smith (aka "Sidewinder" for Players Weekend) said that wearing "Help Cure HD" on his patch was just a small way to help get the word out.
"It's just another way to get it out there," Smith said. "Everybody's got stuff that goes on in their lives, and any little bit that can help. It's such a rare disease and such a small community out there that a lot of people don't really know about it. So just, if somebody sees it [on my sleeve] and it gets them to look it up on a computer and do research, [it's worth it]."
Earlier this season, before Smith was traded to the Indians from the Blue Jays at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Smith and LaForce supported the foundation by taking part in a meet-and-greet fundraiser for a variety of charities in Cleveland on July 23.
Because Huntington's disease is genetic, both Smith and his sister, Megan Nein, have a 50-percent chance of being diagnosed with it one day. Despite this possibility, Smith said that he doesn't let that disrupt how he goes about his life, day-in and day-out.
"I guess it just makes me have fun," Smith said. "I'm here. You don't really know how long life's going to be. Even if you're living, you might not be able to do the things that you want to do every day. It's about coming in, hanging out, acting like a little kid and playing baseball."
• Indians right-fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (10-day disabled list, strained right calf) will play left field in a rehab game with Double-A Akron on Sunday. He is also scheduled to play on Tuesday and Wednesday with Triple-A Columbus.
• Outfielder Abraham Almonte (10-day DL, left hamstring strain) is scheduled to play in a rehab game with Columbus on Monday.
• Right-hander Danny Salazar (10-day DL, right elbow inflammation) will throw off flat ground on Monday. Indians manager Terry Francona will provide an update on Salazar before the series against the Yankees begins.
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.