Emotional Aviles thanks Posada for support
Former Yankees catcher wishes Indians utility man's daughter well
NEW YORK -- Mike Aviles had to fight back tears. Standing in the visitors' dugout at Yankee Stadium before Saturday's game, the Indians veteran was stunned to hear Yankees great Jorge Posada -- on a day dedicated to honoring his career -- would even for a moment mention Aviles in his speech to the crowd.
Posada, who was having his number retired by his former team in a pregame ceremony, briefly wished Aviles and his family well in light of the leukemia battle currently being fought by Aviles' young daughter, Adriana. It was a moment that meant the world to Aviles.
"In all honesty, it put a pit in my throat," Aviles said on Sunday morning prior to the series finale. "It was kind of a double-edged sword. I was excited to hear it, but I was kind of like, 'Man, why'd you do this to me right now? I've got a pit in my throat and I borderline might have to step away from the dugout to go let some tears out.' Luckily, I had glasses on. Obviously, my eyes, they welled up with some tears.
"It just makes you think about the whole situation and it just shows you other people are out there and they think about everything going on. He's a high-character guy. He definitely stepped up even way higher in my book, when he was already high in my book anyway."
Posada said to the Yankee Stadium crowd: "I want to take this opportunity to ask everyone to wish Mike Aviles, that is here today with the Indians, all the best with his daughter, Adriana's recovery. My wish for you and your family is all the health in the world."
Aviles has not had a chance to speak with Posada since his speech, but he plans on reaching out soon to express his gratitude. The Cleveland infielder played against Posada earlier in his career, but he also followed the former catcher closely due to the fact that they are both Puerto Rican and Aviles grew up in the Bronx.
"I watched Jorge Posada play many, many years," Aviles said. "I watched him play for so many years, him being part of the 'Core Four,' and I was always a fan of him as a player. But he stepped it up even more with that yesterday."
Aviles noted Posada's work through his foundation to help raise awareness for children fighting craniosynostosis, which affected the former catcher's son. Aviles said -- once his 4-year-old daughter has shown more improvement -- he hopes to also do more with charity to assist in raising awareness for childhood cancer.
"I've already talked about it with my wife," Aviles said. "I want to wait until we're in a position where, hopefully, my daughter is in remission and everything is going good, to where we can visit different hospitals and do things like that and pretty much bring the awareness to pediatric cancer and leukemia and all that kind of stuff. A lot of people don't really know about it."
Posada's comments in his speech were just the latest show of support Aviles has received this year.
Aviles' teammates shaved their heads -- a trend that spead to the coaching staff and front office -- in support of Adriana, who lost her hair during chemotherapy. Aviles even shaved the head of Indians owner and CEO Paul Dolan earlier this summer. Players have also been wearing orange shirts with "Team Adriana" printed on the chest. On Aug. 13, the Indians had Adriana and her twin sister, Maiya, threw out ceremonial first pitches before the Tribe's game against the Yankees.
"You've seen that smile on her face. They both thoroughly enjoyed it," Aviles said. "They were asking about that for weeks in advance, and I was just waiting for her immune system counts to go up, so that I knew she wouldn't get sick being around that many people. They had an absolute blast. Running around. Going crazy. They got excited. Like, when she saw herself on the scoreboard, she was like, 'I'm on the TV!' They both still talk about it."
As Posada showed on Saturday, the support has not been limited to the Indians.
"Every single time we play against somebody, everybody asks me, 'Hey, how's your daughter?'" Aviles said. "Just to know there's a lot of people that are willing to help and actually, genuinely care, that means a lot. That's more than I can ask."