HOUSTON -- Astros star shortstop Carlos Correa was out of the starting lineup Sunday for the first time this season, but that didn't stop him from taking some time prior to the Astros' 5-4 win over the Tigers to meet with fan Neil Kerrigan, an 18-year-old cancer patient Correa befriended last year.
Kerrigan, who is battling a brain tumor, surprised Correa by coming to the game with his family. Correa spent a few minutes talking with Kerrigan, a student at Houston Christian High School, about his upcoming prom and trip to Ireland before giving him the cap he was wearing.
"It was so much fun," Kerrigan said. "I had met him before, but it was fun to see him with my family and for them to get a chance to meet him. It was a good time, and I got a hat."
Correa met Kerrigan last season when he came to Minute Maid Park to watch batting practice. Correa asked him when his birthday was, and he surprised Kerrigan by showing up at his school last Sept. 21 with a birthday cake to wish him a happy 18th birthday.
"It's meant so much just as a high schooler who's going through chemotherapy and brain surgery and stuff to have the support," Kerrigan said.
Correa was thrilled Kerrigan turned the tables and surprised him Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
"It's pretty special to be able to hang out with him," Correa said. "I have a lot of feelings when I am with that kid. It's pretty special to me. It's always good to have him here."
Kerrigan was wearing a Correa jersey, but the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year wanted to make sure he had a cap as well, so he pulled the hat off his head and gave it to him. Correa later came back and brought a glove to a younger member of Kerrigan's family.
"It's real inspiring," Correa said. "It makes you appreciate things a lot more. I feel like God has put me here for a purpose and I feel like I can impact people in a positive way, and I feel like that's what I'm going to do my entire career."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.