GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There are players in every Major League Spring Training camp who you just know won't be there a year later, but when Chris Ramirez walked into the Dodgers' clubhouse Friday, heads really turned. He wasn't supposed to be anywhere by now. He had a Spring Training tryout with the Dodgers a year ago, not because he intended to make the club, but because he made a wish. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Ramirez asked to try out with the Dodgers and the Make-A-Wish Foundation made it happen. Now an even bigger wish has come true. He's still alive.
He intends to stay that way for quite a while. After chemotherapy and radiation, Ramirez's cancer is in full remission. Ramirez was diagnosed with glioblastoma at the age of 17 after suffering a seizure. He said the tumor that was 2.8 centimeters when it was originally discovered "now is like a dot. Doctors said I beat it. It's either gone or it stays like that for the rest of my life."
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So, he thought it was only right to return to Camelback Ranch-Glendale and thank some of his "teammates.""Last year gave me something to look forward to for the future," said Ramirez, who finished his chemotherapy Thursday. "When I was diagnosed, I didn't know what to think. When I got to meet the Dodgers, I didn't have to think about that anymore. And when they saw me yesterday, it made me feel like it's family to me, they remembered me. They heard I was doing good. I felt like a little kid, nervous again. I didn't want to leave." Ramirez, a Bay Area native, now 18, is red-shirting for the Skyline Junior College baseball team. He hasn't given up on his dream of being a baseball player, because he never let the cancer get him down. When asked if he thought last year's trip would be his last Spring Training, he showed his positive outlook on life. "I never thought I wasn't going to live," said Ramirez. "When they told me I had cancer, I thought they were lying. I didn't think it was me. Cancer is something you get when you're 60 or 70." Ramirez said he will continue to pursue his baseball ambition as far as it takes him. "If it doesn't work out, I'll go into sports medicine or coaching, something around baseball," he said. "If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't, it doesn't." As he was last year, Ramirez was accompanied by his mother, Sara Beltram, and his younger sister, Erika. "It's been a great year," Sara said. "It's amazing the way he's handled this situation. He's able to take medication with only minor side effects. Doctors are really surprised. Other patients can't handle these strong pills. I believe God is the best doctor. And the Dodgers have made a big difference to my son's life. We're very grateful to the Dodgers." Ramirez also gives props to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "Make-A-Wish gave me this chance," he said. "Without the chance to come here, I never would have known these people and they wouldn't have known about me. It's more than special. It's a dream."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.