LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig returned to Los Angeles to surprise children with gifts and an unforgettable experience at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
After joining friend and Laker Pau Gasol for a visit to Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) in November, Puig was inspired by the many patients he spent time with. As a result, he set out to visit once again during the holiday season. Puig's friendship with the Northeast Los Angeles Little League began in October when he made a surprise visit to their practice field. He invited a group of youngsters to play with him at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday following his visit to CHLA.
"I am so happy with this city and I don't know how I can thank our fans for making me feel happy but I can try by doing nice things," said Puig. "I don't like to be proud of myself for what I've done because it's only a little and I just want to keep doing more. I want to thank the Dodgers for helping me in making my ideas come true."
On his second visit to CHLA, Puig distributed Dodgers goodie bags that included an autographed photo and he posed for pictures with patients and their families. His visit with each patient concluded with get-well wishes and an invitation to attend a 2014 Dodgers game compliments of Puig. He plans to host patients and their families throughout next season.
Puig first hosted 50 Northeast L.A. Little Leaguers at Dodger Stadium in November. The league, comprised of 100 youngsters, was promised a second visit by the outfielder in order for each child in the league to get the chance to play with Puig.
The second set of youngsters was welcomed by Puig Tuesday and given Dodgers hats and T-shirts and were invited to play on the field. The Little Leaguers also hit in the Dodgers' batting cages, visited Puig's locker and posed for photos with the outfielder in the clubhouse and on the field. It was also a belated birthday celebration for Puig, as the youngsters sung "Happy Birthday" to their Dodgers hero while being treated to Dodger Dogs in the Dugout Club at the conclusion of the event.
Puig has built a connection with the Los Angeles community since his callup on June 3. Throughout the 2013 season, he often gifted his bats and personal baseball items to special guests of need prior to games. He co-hosted Cuban Heritage Day at Viva Los Dodgers held at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 1 and made an appearance alongside several teammates at La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers on Sept. 14.
Puig has remained active in the community this offseason having hosted the entire Northeast L.A. Little League for two separate play dates at Dodger Stadium as well as two visits to CHLA. He said he plans to increase his involvement in the Los Angeles community for the 2014 season.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.