LAKELAND, Fla. -- Don't tell Mike Aviles that Tigers position players aren't officially due into camp until next week. The smile on his face as he took grounders on the workout infield at Tigertown suggests he's having too much fun."You'll see a lot of those," Aviles said Thursday afternoon. "I'm
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Don't tell Mike Aviles that Tigers position players aren't officially due into camp until next week. The smile on his face as he took grounders on the workout infield at Tigertown suggests he's having too much fun.
"You'll see a lot of those," Aviles said Thursday afternoon. "I'm never serious. I'm always messing around."
That smile probably will widen in a couple of weeks, when his family arrives to visit. That includes his 5-year-old daughter Adriana, whose battle with leukemia last summer might thankfully be over.
"Everything's going well with her," Aviles said. "She had a bone marrow transplant in December. She's recovering and she'll be out here in a couple weeks when she's allowed to fly. She's cancer-free and going forward."
Adriana, who was diagnosed with leukemia last May in Cleveland while her father was on the road with the Indians, underwent chemotherapy last summer.
Many of Aviles' teammates and coaches shaved their heads in a show of support, donning "Team Adriana" T-shirts. When the Indians fell out of contention near the Trade Deadline, the Indians held on to Aviles, not wanting to force him to be away from his family during that time. Later in the season, Adriana threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Progressive Field.
"My daughter got diagnosed when they came to visit," he said, "so they weren't actually going to stay the whole time. So my wife and kids got stranded out in Cleveland the whole year when they were going to go home and come back in the summer. We don't have family there, so if I got traded to somewhere in California, now my family [would be] in Cleveland, I'm in California and my family or my wife's family aren't even close to us. It was a tough situation, but it worked out because I didn't get traded."
Aviles became a free agent at season's end and brought his family home to Utah, where Adriana received treatment at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, where the transplant took place.
"That's been her hospital this whole time, since the offseason started," Aviles said. "She's doing well."
December was a very good month for the family. It was also the time when Aviles signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Tigers, filling general manager Al Avila's search for a veteran utility player.
"The fun part is going to be not worrying about when Miggy's going to hit a homer," said Aviles, who was a winter-ball teammate of Miguel Cabrera years ago in Venezuela. "I've been on the other side numerous times. It'll be fun to be on the same side cheering."
Likewise, the Indians now go from Aviles' support group to his opponents. Still, his ex-teammates, many of whom kept in touch this offseason, were overjoyed about Adriana's good health.
"Our families got to hang out a lot," Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes said. "Whenever they had to go take Adriana to do her chemo, we kept Maya, who's her twin. It was just amazing to see. We understood that she was sick, obviously, but whenever she came around, they were still just so happy, just being kids. I think that plays a huge part in having hope and faith."
• Indians cheer news about Aviles' daughter
Said Michael Brantley: "It's a blessing, not only as a teammate, but as a friend. When you spend so much time together, it becomes a family. To hear that news, and obviously I was keeping up with him this offseason and I knew everything was going well, but it's a great day and a great time to hear that."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. MLB.com reporter Jordan Bastian contributed.