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Rangers spread holiday cheer to local kids

Club makes annual visit to Children's Medical Center of Dallas
Special to MLB.com

DALLAS -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is known as much for his smile as for his flashy defense or speed on the basepaths. On Tuesday morning, the club's longest-tenured player might not have been able to pass along many fielding tips, but he did his best to share that smile with as many children as possible.

Andrus and roughly two dozen players, coaches, staff, front-office members (and one mascot) visited the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, spending time with kids who are unable to spend their holiday season at home.

DALLAS -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is known as much for his smile as for his flashy defense or speed on the basepaths. On Tuesday morning, the club's longest-tenured player might not have been able to pass along many fielding tips, but he did his best to share that smile with as many children as possible.

Andrus and roughly two dozen players, coaches, staff, front-office members (and one mascot) visited the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, spending time with kids who are unable to spend their holiday season at home.

"It means a lot," Andrus said. "Coming every year ... to give these kids a smile, it means a lot. It's something I look forward to."

While most interactions came in the form of a handshake, a hug, or an autograph, a few players spent time just quietly drawing pictures or coloring with some of the more shy kids. Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was one such artist.

"I have three kids," Choo said, when asked about what the visit meant to him. He spoke of the opportunity to give his children the opportunity to attend and give back to the community.

"I'm always happy to see the kids, especially at Christmastime ... to bring some energy, to make them happy. My wife likes it, I like it, the last two years, so I'll keep doing it."

"I think I speak for everyone," Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels added, "when I say that this is one of our favorite days of the year; one of the most fulfilling days of the year, organizationally, you come in here and see the positive attitudes of all these kids and their parents, and the medical caregivers here, and it's just such a perspective on what's important. Selfishly, it's very fulfilling for us to be a part of, but really proud as an organization to be able to come here and give back some to the community and uplift some kids."

Rangers manager Jeff Banister agreed.

"You see it in the faces of these kids and the families; the smile at that moment in time when happiness is needed, and a diversion is needed from what's going on," he said. "To be part of it, however small it is, it's incredible."

The Rangers, as an organization, have been making these visits for at least 20 years, but it was Joey Gallo's first season to accompany the team on its visit.

"I'm really excited about it," Gallo said. "I think it's a great thing to do, and it's awesome to see these kids, especially if they're big fans. To kind of make their day, and it even makes our day just to be here, so I'm very excited."

Right-hander A.J. Griffin, likewise, was making his first visit with the club as well.

"It's really awesome to be able to come in and help these kids that are going through some adversity in their lives right now," he said. "Just to be able to forget their problems for a little bit. [It's good] to hang out, and have some normal conversation with some good kids."

Also in attendance: Rule 5 Draft pick Michael Hauschild and waiver-wire pickup Tyler Wagner. It was the first public appearance for each as members of the Rangers. The list of attendees also included: Matt Bush, Andrew Faulkner, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nomar Mazara, Yohander Mendez, hitting coach Justin Mashore, Rangers Hall of Famer Michael Young, broadcasters Eric Nadel, Matt Hicks, Eleno Ornelas and Emily Jones, new field coordinator Josh Bonifay, and Rangers mascot Captain.

After the main gathering in the larger room with the tables, the attendees were split into smaller groups, and visited individual patients in their rooms.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Andrus, who was wearing a red and white stocking hat. "Being able to be Santa for a day, I think that's everybody's dream."

The Rangers will visit Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth on Wednesday.

Levi Weaver is a contributor to MLB.com based in Arlington.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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