MLB stressing skin-cancer awareness

Stay safe this summer. Major League Baseball began its Play Sun Smart initiative on Sunday, which seeks to raise awareness of skin cancer and to offer prevention tips to the baseball community.

All 30 teams are involved in the campaign, and Play Sun Smart is a joint effort run by MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement regarding the start of the Play Sun Smart program.

"The very nature of our sport calls for us to be not only cognizant of potentially harmful rays, but also active against the dangers of exposure," said Manfred last week as part of an official news release.

"For our fans, our on-field personnel and baseball and softball players at every level, Major League Baseball is proud to work alongside all 30 clubs and the American Academy of Dermatology in raising awareness and sharing tips on how to play safe in the sun. We encourage everyone to be vigilant in protecting their skin and to get regular checkups from board-certified dermatologists."

Current medical estimates project that up to one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and early detection is key in making sure cancer gets stopped in its tracks.

MLB players, coaches and staff from all 30 teams will participate in skin-cancer screenings and in practicing sun-safe behaviors throughout the season, serving as role models for the local community. USA Baseball will also join the Play Sun Smart program this season, which will enable the message of sun safety to travel to thousands of participants, parents and fans across the country.

More than 37,000 skin-cancer screenings have been conducted over the life of the program, which began in 1999, and more than 1,200 suspicious lesions have been found in that time. Fans are encouraged to find a free skin-cancer screening in their home area by visiting playsunsmart.org.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.