Adriana Aviles was diagnosed with childhood leukemia in May
By August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- In trying circumstances, baseball comes second. Family always comes first.
In special circumstances, the two can join together. Such was the case Thursday, as Mike Aviles' twin daughters, Adriana and Maiya, took the mound together to throw out the game's ceremonial first pitches before Cleveland's 8-6 loss to the Yankees in the series finale.
Adriana was diagnosed with leukemia in May, causing Aviles to take 10 days away from the team as she underwent initial treatment at Cleveland Clinic. Thursday's gesture is just the latest in a series of touching signs of support displayed by the organization this season, including members of the club -- along with team CEO Paul Dolan -- shaving their heads in solidarity with Adriana, and the production of "Team Adriana" T-shirts.
To Aviles, though, the most important gesture has simply been the conversations he's had with those close to him on the team. Specifically, the first talk he had with general manager Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona upon learning of Adriana's diagnosis.
"Just listening to how genuine they were about me coming back," Aviles said. "I wanted to be there in the hospital until she was released from the first initial stay. Their sincerity with everything just kind of set the tone for the rest of the year. It truly showed me that they actually cared about my family and they weren't just worried about, 'Oh no, the baseball team.' Chris told me straight up, 'Sometimes baseball is second. Family comes first.' That showed me a lot, because this is my other family."
Aviles first floated the possibility of throwing a first pitch to his daughters when Adriana was originally diagnosed, and they are taking advantage of a time when Adriana's immune system is strong enough to make the appearance.
"Adriana was excited and her sister was, too," Aviles said. "Both twins were excited."
The support from those around him has allowed Aviles to fight through this difficult situation.
"The support that I've gotten from the team, the front office and the fans here has made it easier for me to come every day and actually it makes it easier for our family, for me and my wife and my kids through all the stuff we're going through," Aviles said. "The support here has been second to none, and that's why it's been somewhat easier to come to the field.
"It's been a tough time, but considering the circumstances, I think things have played out in a good way. And I think a lot of that has to do with all the support I've gotten. Without that, I don't know if I would have been able to even get through the year."
August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.