Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer sized up the team’s newest player before Thursday’s game at Kauffman Stadium.
“What position are you going to play?” Hosmer asked. “Not first base. That’s my position.”
A wide smile formed on Hosmer’s face as the new guy, 6-year-old Rhylan Lopata, fumbled for an answer.
Rhylan signed a contract on Thursday under the watchful eye of general manager Dayton Moore. The ceremony, which was set up through the Missouri Make-A-Wish Foundation, came roughly seven months after Rhylan was diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
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There was a mass in Rhylan’s chest and the disease had spread to his spleen. He endured five cycles of chemotherapy and two weeks of radiation, but he has been in remission since August.
His father, Rick, was overjoyed by it all: the signing ceremony at Kauffman Stadium and the ensuing visit with Hosmer on the field where Rhylan played pickle with his brother and Hosmer.
“I can’t express enough thanks. For everything we’ve been through, seeing Rylan go through treatment and everything, just seeing it put a smile on his face just makes our day,” Rick Lopata said. “I’m glad he’s having a good time today.”
As a father, Moore was glad to be to help bring joy to Rhylan.
“It’s a special blessing to be able to use whatever role you have in the game as a platform to help others,” Moore said.
Rhylan received a special Royals jersey with his name and the number three on the back. Moore helped Rhylan slip on the jersey, then fumbled with the buttons.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done this,” Moore said.
In a news conference, Rhylan was asked what position in the batting order he would like.
“Ummmmm,” he said. “Four!”
Batting clean-up? Well, after all that he’s been through, it’s OK for Rhylan to dream big.