Angels visit kids at local children's hospital

Angels visit kids at local children's hospital

ANAHEIM -- For some people, it just takes one special surprise to make all the difference in the world.

The Angels did just that Tuesday afternoon, as second baseman Johnny Giavotella, left-hander Andrew Heaney, catcher Jett Bandy and infielder Gregorio Petit surprised patients at the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). It's a monthly tradition for the organization, who frequently makes visits to visit the hospital.

They certainly made an entrance, buying into the child-like spirit of the event as Giavotella and Petit took turns riding a wagon in to patients' rooms to greet them.

"That's why I'm glad I'm pequeno," Petit said, citing his small stature in Spanish.

The four Angels, along with others involved in the organization, visited several children throughout the hospital and took the time to show their best painting, cooking and video games skills.

Aaron, a 3-year-old in the hospital following an acute asthma attack, spent his time playing with the same guys he saw when he went to his first-ever Angels game in May. When he and his older brother, who was aptly named Angel, made the trip to Angel Stadium, the players were the stars. On Tuesday, it was Aaron's turn.

"We've got to take a picture with the real celebrity," Giavotella said as the group posed for a picture.

Aaron, along with other kids throughout the hospital, received a variety of gifts, including photos with the players, an autographed hat, a lunch box, activity books and a ball.

Upon receiving the ball, one of the patients quickly began tossing the ball with the players. Tayvin, a 4-year-old fresh off his third open heart surgery, quickly made things serious. Rocket after rocket comes off his right arm towards Giavotella, as the second baseman is forced to show off his catching skills.

"Don't worry, I'm a catcher," Giavotella said.

"Well, you're the emergency catcher," Bandy quipped back.

Tayvin isn't a big fan of the game of baseball, his father admits, but the impact is still strong. He admits that his son's diagnosis, hypoplastic right heart syndrome, has been difficult to accept, but sees Tuesday as a good day.

"I think that having these guys here is a great interaction for him," his father said. "It was good for him."

Before the players make their rounds to visit the next room, they stop to take a picture with their newest catch partner. Tayvin, who had remained serious and focused during his game of catch, instantly brightens. He raised his right thumb up in the air, flashing a toothy grin as the camera flashed.

"It's amazing," his father said. "I think that's the first time I've seen him smile all day."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.