ANAHEIM -- Adorned in full uniform and cleats, manager Mike Scioscia's newest player made his first big league appearance before Monday night's game against Houston.Five-year-old Johny Rojas, with a glimmering grin, looked up at center fielder and former American League MVP Mike Trout as the two exchanged advice about the
ANAHEIM -- Adorned in full uniform and cleats, manager Mike Scioscia's newest player made his first big league appearance before Monday night's game against Houston.
Five-year-old Johny Rojas, with a glimmering grin, looked up at center fielder and former American League MVP Mike Trout as the two exchanged advice about the night's game. He got his arm loose, tossing pitches to infielder Gregorio Petit as he practiced his bunting.
About two months ago, Johny was in the hospital recovering from his second liver transplant. While the liver did not take as well as they had hoped, the Angels presented Johny with the opportunity he'd always wanted -- a chance to go to a Major League baseball game.
"He's been asking for several months for me to bring him to [Angel Stadium]," Johny's father, Carlos Castro, said. "I usually don't have the time to do it. This is the time he's ever even been to a place like [Angel Stadium]."
The Orange County and Inland Empire Make-A-Wish Foundation brought up the idea of watching his favorite baseball team, the Angels, in person. Castro said it has been a "more than difficult" time for Johny in regards to his health. Johny is awaiting his third liver transplant, and Castro hopes things can finally start to turn around for his son.
"I'm looking forward to it, and hoping that he can come out of it OK and move forward," Castro said. "The first two, it just didn't happen."
Johny has dealt with liver issues from birth, regularly finding himself in need of medical care. Castro has tried his best to give his son as close to a normal life as possible. He described his son as an active, avid lover of sports, particularly soccer and baseball.
After taking in Sunday's Copa America final between Argentina and Chile on television, Johny prepared for his next challenge -- making his Major League debut the next day at Angel Stadium. Suiting up with the Angels' typical white pants and white jersey and sporting a brand-new red and white glove, Johny observed Angels batting practice from the field. He got a chance to sit and watch Scioscia's daily media scrum and meet with the FOX Sports West broadcast crew to see the inner workings of an MLB game.
More importantly, he got a chance to do something he had asked to do for months -- spend a day at the ballpark.
"This is exactly what it is: a wish come true," Castro said.
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim.