Angels take time to visits kids in local hospital

ANAHEIM -- Angels players Matt Joyce, Taylor Featherston, Efren Navarro and Hector Santiago dropped in on patients at Children's Hospital of Orange County on Tuesday morning, signing hats, taking photos and brightening kids' days.

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They went room by room, floor by floor, spending time at each bed -- as if they were on rounds, like the group of med students they crisscrossed midway through their visit.

The group took a picture with a patient named Uriel. It went up on his Instagram account immediately -- just him and his squad.

They made sure to congratulate Steven, who was graduating high school on Tuesday but couldn't make it to his ceremony.

At one point, Joyce stopped in a doorway to play catch with the kid inside.

And all four walked into one room singing happy birthday to a boy named Daniel, who was turning 15 on Tuesday.

"We saw him, we walked in and he had no idea," Santiago said. "We walked in and sang happy birthday, his face went from kind of sad, like 'Oh, I gotta sit in this bed all day,' to happy and joyful."

CHOC's Child Life program, which organizes events like the Angels' visits and provides the children with pet therapy, art therapy and music activities, is one of the main facets of the pediatric hospital that sets it apart from an adult facility.

Many of the kids the players saw Tuesday were Angels fans. One young girl, among the last visits of the day, had missed Monday night's game according to her parents, and had been waiting for the Angels all morning. A boy in a snapback and his father turned up from down the hall after hearing the players were there.

Some of them were Dodgers fans. That was OK, too. They seemed just as happy to see Joyce, Featherston, Navarro and Santiago.

"We get to put a smile on the kid's face, make them forget stuff that they're going through, the medications and the treatments," Santiago said. "It makes it an easy day away from the hospital -- they're in the hospital, but it doesn't seem like it anymore. That's what I get out of it -- happiness, giving back to the community, giving back to the kids."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.