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Butera, Beliveau visit children's hospital in Japan

Dodgers catcher, Rays reliever use off-day to spread some cheer in Okinawa

OKINAWA, Japan -- On their last off-day of the Japan All-Star Series, Dodgers catcher Drew Butera and Rays reliever Jeff Beliveau visited the Okinawan Prefectural Nanbu Children's Medical Center on Wednesday.

A few short hours after arriving from Sapporo, site of Tuesday's game, Butera and Beliveau held a Q&A session, posed for pictures and signed autographs for patients on two floors of the hospital. They were joined by Astros mascot Orbit, who is accompanying the MLB squad taking part in the barnstorming showcase against the Japanese national team.

Butera and Beliveau handed out and signed official Japan All-Star Series programs and editions of their baseball cards, while Orbit gave out and signed Astros memorabilia for the group of about 40 children.

"It was great to come here and put a smile on their faces," Beliveau said. "It was a great experience and it was really fun."

Butera, Beliveau and Orbit weren't the only ones giving out gifts. The children presented Butera and Beliveau with homemade origami medals and assorted "good luck charms" for their trip finale on Thursday, an exhibition against Samurai Japan (4 a.m ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV).

"They lift our spirits as much as we lift theirs," Butera said. "They definitely put a smile on our face."

Despite a tight travel schedule and numerous off-field commitments during their time in Japan, Butera and Beliveau were determined to make this visit.

"As baseball figures and public figures in our own way, I think it's important to give back to the community," Butera said. "They make our day just as much, but to hopefully make their day is just as important to me, and I know it is to all the guys on the team."

Added Beliveau: "We're staying in the best hotels and we're given this awesome trip around the world. It's nice to give back and brighten these kids' days up. I know I had a great time doing it.

"They did a lot of hard work making these wonderful gifts for us, so that was really cool that they did that. It was a great experience."

Japan All-Star Series schedule
• Exhibition: MLB 8, Hanshin-Yomiuri 7 | Box
• Game No. 1: Japan 2, MLB 0 | Box
• Game No. 2: Japan 8, MLB 4 | Box
• Game No. 3: Japan 4, MLB 0 | Box
• Game No. 4: MLB 6, Japan 1 | Box
• Game No. 5: MLB 3, Japan 1 | Box
• Thursday: Exhibition against Samurai Japan, 4 a.m. ET/9 p.m. JT, Okinawa

MLB Network will broadcast Thursday's seventh and final game of the Japan trip live at 4 a.m. ET, and MLB.TV subscribers in the U.S. and around the world can watch live and on-demand streams as well.

David Venn is executive editor of
Read More: Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Drew Butera, Jeff Beliveau