BRADENTON -- Owen Taylor has suffered a lot in his seven years.
At 2 months old, doctors discovered a rare heart condition. What Owen's right ventricle is supposed to do, his left one does, and whatever his left ventricle is supposed to do, his right one does.
Owen has undergone open-heart surgery and has at least one or two big procedures ahead of him, his mother, Tracy Taylor, said.
"He's a kid with a pacemaker at 5," she said. "He is one tough cookie, and he does not let things get him down."
On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania teamed to fulfill the 7-year-old's wish of joining the Pirates and his hero, star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, at a spring training game in Bradenton.
Owen, a native of Everett, Pa., met McCutchen in the Pirates clubhouse prior to the Grapefruit League contest against the Houston Astros, played catch on the field and threw out a ceremonial first pitch to get things going at McKechnie Field.
He was announced during pregame festivities, drawing a loud ovation from the fans. Manager Clint Hurdle had him present the lineup card to the umpires at home plate.
"It's been incredible," Tracy Taylor said. "The things the Pirates organization have done with him are beyond his wildest dreams and expectations that he had in coming here."
Tracy said Owen's aunt really pushed for them to contact Make-A-Wish.
"They came out to our house and that was what he said was he wanted, to go play ball with Andrew McCutchen at spring training," Tracy said. "And they are a phenomenal organization that took everything from there and made it happen."
Owen's younger brother, 4-year-old Gabe, also was there alongside Tracy and the boys' father, Bryan. Ow
en's grandmother was in attendance for the pregame festivities, too. The Taylor's youngest child, daughter Regan, 2, was staying with grandparents away from the park.
St. Patrick's Day turned into a special day for Owen. The highlight, his dad said, was meeting McCutchen, the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player and face of the Pirates franchise.
"Just getting to meet him and the opportunity to play catch with him, and spending the time with him," Bryan Taylor said.
"He spent all morning with him (and) went through a team workout. And just the overall experience, I think, was a dream."
Added Tracy of Owen: "He is very analytical. He's gonna size everything up before he opens his mouth or decides what avenue he is going to pursue. He is our most shy by a long shot."