A video surfaced this weekend of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sharing with his team, the story of pitching prospect Devin Smeltzer.
In the video, Roberts showed a picture of a very skinny bald-headed Devin getting an autograph from then Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. The New Jersey native was there as part of a meet-and-greet with members of the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2006, when he was just 10 years old.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) March 30, 2018
At the age of 9, Smeltzer was diagnosed with pelvic rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer. A tumor had grown against his bladder that was connected to his prostate. He was treated with surgery and chemotherapy at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and a few years later, in 2012, the cancer had went into full remission.
“It makes you grow up. It makes you be an adult,” Smeltzer said in 2015. “When you think of cancer you think of the worst. But once I got over it and realized I had something curable – it was very aggressive, but I had a good shot – I just kind of got over myself and started helping others in there. I started getting real close with them.”
Now, 12 years later, Smeltzer is a left-handed pitcher with the Dodgers, the same team 39-year-old Chase Utley plays for. After showing the video to his team, Roberts brought up Devin and reunited him with Chase Utley for the first time since that day in 2006 in Philadelphia.
Today I got to thank @chaseutley on behalf of St. Christopher’s hospital, my family,and all of philly. We have both come a long way since ‘06. On and off the field he leads and gives back. Thanks to the @dodgers for making this happen on a higher platform to get my story out and inspire. Looking forward to my strike out campaign this year and seeing what we can rally up to help out Katie’s Krusaders. Information to come! . . . . #catchcancerlooking #dodgers #phillies #inspire #survivor
Smeltzer posted to his Instagram a picture with Utley and shared his plans to try and bring awareness and raise funds to strike out cancer with his foundation @CatchCancerLooking.
Today I got to thank @chaseutley on behalf of St. Christopher’s hospital, my family, and all of philly. We have both come a long way since ‘06. On and off the field he leads and gives back. Thanks to the @dodgers for making this happen on a higher platform to get my story out and inspire. Looking forward to my strike out campaign this year and seeing what we can rally up to help out Katie’s Krusaders. Information to come!
“It’s a pretty special and unique story with Devin,” Utley told ESPN after the two were reunited in the middle of the team’s clubhouse. “I had the opportunity to meet him when he was 10 years old, battling cancer. I can’t even imagine what he was going through, what his parents were going through. And to see him beat cancer, to see … his ability take over and allow him to play baseball for a living.”
Devin was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Dodgers. He went 7-7 with a 4.17 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 142⅓ innings last season, which he split between the team’s Rancho Cucamonga and Great Lakes affiliates in A ball .
You can watch the entire story of Devin Smeltzer from SportsNet LA here.
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