ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Beltran is sitting in the hospital lobby, smothering his cough, wiping his nose, trying to get over a nasty flu bug.
He walks upstairs, turns the corner, enters the hospital room, and there is a balding 15-year-old boy, Jason, who shrieks at the sight.
"Oh, my God," he says, "it's you. It's you!"
Jason has cancer. So does the 11-year-old boy down the hall. And the 13-year-old girl next door. And the 5-year-old boy one flight up. And Josh Nelson, a 17-year-old boy, waiting for a new kidney.
Beltran, despite feeling cruddy for the last few days, is visiting the Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, spending two hours with young cancer patients before last week's St. Louis Cardinals game.
"I know kids look up to me," says Beltran, the Cardinals' All-Star right fielder, "but I don't want to be known as just a baseball player. God gave me the opportunity and blessed me to accomplish good things in this sport. But if you don't do something with it, and help people with blessings you received, what does that really mean?
"I want to be a good person, to help kids get an education, to help them achieve meaningful things. That's what this is all about, and it means everything to me. When you help people you don't even know, it makes you feel like you really accomplished something.
"There comes a time in everyone's career when baseball is over. There should never be a time when you stop helping people, and I never will."