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Doug Fister pitched two days after cancerous skin was removed from neck

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew
Fister has skin cancer removed, says he's OK
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Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

If Washington Nationals right-hander Doug Fister was thinking about more than just baseball during his outing on Friday night, it would be perfectly understandable.

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Fister took the hill against the San Francisco Giants just two days after undergoing a procedure to remove cancerous skin from the left side of his neck.

The stitches from the procedure were visible as Fister labored through six innings - his shortest outing since July 21 - in the Nationals 10-3 loss to San Francisco. Fister was only on the hook for four of those runs, but took his fourth loss as Washington's 10-game winning streak was snapped.

Both Fister and manager Matt Williams confirmed the procedure when asked about the mark on Fister's neck, but both insisted that it had no baring on his outing.

“I had some skin cancer removed a couple days ago,” Fister said. “It had no effect tonight.”

“I just wasn’t sharp,” Fister said. “I left too many balls over the plate.”

Understandably, the competitor in Fister brushed it off all together. However, the skin cancer issue is one people within the game have to take more seriously.

Recently, Kilgore's colleague at the Washington Post, James Wagner, wrote an article discussing how skin cancer is an often overlooked hazard of playing, coaching and even scouting baseball for a living. Wagner told the stories of current Nationals scout Mark Baca and third-base coach Bob Henley, both of whom have had cancerous cells removed from their skin. 

“It has become a trend in baseball,” Baca said. Added Henley: “It’s a serious thing. It really is.”

Wagner noted that MLB is doing its part to make sure players are more aware of skin cancer prevention, but the information doesn't always sink in.

I should be better at using sunscreen,” Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen said. “I use it when I remember it. It’s one of those things, young and dumb and worry about it later kind of thing. I’ve kinda paid more attention to it. I do pay more attention to it when we’re in spring training in Florida from what I do during the season.”

Perhaps Stammen will be more proactive after seeing it directly affect one of his teammates.

With that said, the good news here is Fister's situation doesn't appear to be serious or urgent. He should be locked in as one of Washington's key cogs down the stretch. More importantly, his situation, minor as it may be, should open up a few more eyes, which makes it a win-win.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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