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Players delighted to be decked out in pink

Players delighted to be decked out in pink

Players delighted to be decked out in pink
Don't be surprised if Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton steps into the batter's box Monday night sporting a pink Louisville Slugger.

Stanton, who was among the many Major Leaguers using a pink bat on Mother's Day to help raise breast cancer awareness, delivered a walk-off grand slam to cap a six-run, ninth-inning rally by the Marlins.

"I'm gonna use [the pink bat] tomorrow, and the next day," Stanton joked after his 3-for-5 performance against the Mets.

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The bats are just one piece of the Mother's Day tradition that began in 2006 to raise awareness of breast cancer in the interest of prevention, treatment and finding a cure. At ballparks throughout the league on Sunday, players and on-field personnel also donned a pink ribbon on their uniforms, as well as a pink wristbands.

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And some players wish they could have done even more.

"I definitely love it," said Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson before adding that he also would have liked to have worn pink cleats, helmets and batting gloves. "I wish we could wear everything, but there's a couple stipulations why we can't wear certain things. But the guys definitely showed their support for a great cause."

Granderson, unfortunately, was in the category of players who didn't fare all that well with the pink bats, going 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. Teammate Derek Jeter also struck out in his first at-bat, then slid his pink bat to a young female fan sitting in the first row upon his return to the dugout.

In the other dugout at Yankee Stadium, Mariners left fielder Casper Wells delivered a unique Mother's Day present to his mom after she made the two-plus-hour drive to be at Sunday's game. While Wells didn't pull out the pink lumber on Sunday, he managed to hit his first home run of the season while sporting a pink wristband.

"She said, 'Hit a home run for me,'" Wells said of a request made by his mother prior to his team's 6-2 victory. "Like that's an easy thing to do. I was thinking, 'That's kind of a big request. How about a single or a couple knocks?' I got a bag for her last year. This year, I got her a home run at Yankee Stadium."

Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur did employ a pink bat while also teeing off for his first homer of the season in the Royals' 9-1 win over the White Sox. Francoeur's eighth-inning blast came with both his mother and father in attendance at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. Manager Ned Yost waited until Francoeur's ninth-inning single to declare his outfielder's day a success.

"When I got the second hit, [Yost] was like, 'There you go, now she'll go home happy,'" said Francoeur. "It was special that they were in the stands. I got a picture with her today on the field, and to have them here today was really neat."

Whether showing support with bats, wristbands or even pink shoelaces in Granderson's case, players around the league took playing on Mother's Day as an opportunity to both honor their own mother while also raising breast cancer awareness.

For some players, just having the chance to use the bats was gratifying enough, regardless of whether they knocked any balls out of the park or simply swung and missed with them.

"It's awesome," Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso said before going 0-for-3 against the Phillies with the pink bat. "I grew up watching guys swing pink bats and wanted to do that. It's an honor. It's for a good cause. When I got the bats, the first thing I did was take a picture of them and send it to my mom and dad. I told them how proud I was to use them."

Phillies left fielder Juan Pierre didn't need to send his mother, Derry, any pictures. Instead, she was flown in from Louisiana and honored with an on-field, pregame ceremony. Pierre had won the Phillies' annual drawing to see which player's mother would be brought in for the festivities.

Pierre went 2-for-4 with his pink bat, and notched the eventual game-winning RBI with a fifth-inning double -- not that the numbers mattered much to his mother.

"Mom doesn't care if you're 0-for-4, she still loves you no matter what," Pierre said with a laugh. "You're always a hero in mom's eyes, man. That's why moms are so special. Everybody needs them. But it was good for her to be here and enjoy it."

It was a player who didn't even swing a bat in a game Sunday that may have made the biggest Mother's Day splash, though. Nationals catcher Sandy Leon was called up from Double-A Harrisburg around midnight Sunday morning and immediately called his parents to break the news.

"That's the first time I called too late. It was 12 and I called them and they were awake. I don't know how, but they were awake," Leon said. "She asked 'What happened? What happened?' But I said 'No, Mom, I went to the big leagues.' She handed my dad the phone and started crying. It was pretty awesome."

"Happy Mother's Day to my mom. That's the gift. It's a very good gift. She was very happy."

As for the players who did swing the pink bats Sunday, the next step will be signing the game-used bats to be placed in the MLB.com Auction -- assuming they can pry Stanton's away from him. The auction helps bring in further funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

"It's for a good cause," D-backs right fielder Justin Upton said. "Mothers are special to everybody. There are a lot of people that have lost their mothers to breast cancer, and for us to wear pink equipment for a reason is special. It does bring awareness to the situation and gets people talking."

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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