BALTIMORE -- A number of Rays players have committed to using pink bats on Sunday against the Blue Jays as part of Major League Baseball's commitment to raise breast cancer awareness on Mother's Day.
Rays players tentatively planning to swing the pink bats include Delmon Young, Ty Wigginton, Rocco Baldelli, Dioner Navarro, B.J. Upton, Elijah Dukes and Carlos Pena. Others on the club will also use pink bats from other manufacturers.
They will join a number of Major League players will help raise awareness for breast cancer on Mother's Day by using pink Louisville Slugger bats. To date, more than 200 players have signed up to use a pink bat, which is more than twice the participation in 2006. Select game-used bats, as well as team-autographed bats from every club, will be auctioned on MLB.com at a later date, with proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans can also purchase their own personalized pink bat at MLB.com, or www.slugger.com, with Major League Baseball donating $10 from the sale of each bat to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
"Major League Baseball is proud to again partner with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help raise awareness and funds for a disease that affects so many women and their families," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "It is important to all of us in baseball that our Clubs, players, licensees and fans give back to our communities in such a meaningful way."
"Last year I didn't use one, for sure, but this year I figure I might give it a whirl," Wigginton said.
Pena said the gesture is to show how important all the mothers are to the players.
"And it's for a good cause and if it helps raise awareness, that's a plus," Pena said. "I think it's a cool thing. [Using a pink bat is] not so bad. Last year I had to wear a pink jersey. So a bat's not bad at all. I don't mind."
Added Baldelli: "I've never used a pink bat before. This is the first time I've even had one."
During the "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" program, fans can support the initiative by logging onto a MLB-themed microsite (www.komen.org/mlb) and making a monetary pledge in the name of a specific team, or to the general cause. Donations made in a team's name will go to programs in that team's community to support breast health and breast cancer awareness. The donations can be made at five different levels: "Single" ($25), "Double" ($50), "Triple" ($75), "Home Run" ($100) and "Grand Slam" ($250). Major League Baseball Charities has also committed an additional $50,000 on top of the fan donation total.
"I like it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I love my mom. I think it's pretty cool. Everybody digs their mom. I think it's a great tribute to mom, and I kind of like it. I like things like that. I don't think it interferes with the game. And it sends a wonderful message. And I'm OK with it."
The Mother's Day breast cancer initiative is one of several health initiatives supported by Major League Baseball. Other projects include the Father's Day Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge, which helps raise money and awareness of prostate cancer; and Play Smart When it Comes to the Sun, a league-wide skin cancer awareness program in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.