As the recent death of Tony Gwynn to salivary gland cancer continues to resonate in baseball circles, commissioner Bud Selig and Players Association executive director Tony Clark both want MLB to make strides toward reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of smokeless tobacco in the game. But it remains to be seen if they can find the necessary common ground to make that goal a reality.

While Selig expects the subject to be part of negotiations toward a new labor agreement over the next two years, Clark on Tuesday expressed the hope that smokeless tobacco use among players will diminish through greater efforts to educate players on the health hazards. Clark said the union is open to discussing the issue in labor talks, but wants the use of smokeless tobacco to remain a matter of individual choice and does not advocate an outright ban.

"We believe the numbers suggest that usage has declined significantly," Clark said. "It's declined in the minor leagues and the major leagues. Our hope is that we can continue to educate guys on the damage that dipping can do and they will continue to decide not to dip and chew.

"We give the players the opportunity to make the decision they're going to make against the backdrop of it being legal. At the end of the day, we don't condone it and they know we don't condone it."

Selig and Clark made their comments during an annual All-Star Game session with the Baseball Writers Association of America. They also gave their thoughts on the state of instant replay, the recent spate of pitchers' arm injuries and numerous other issues affecting the game.

Gwynn, an eight-time batting champion and first ballot Hall of Famer, died on June 16 at age 54. He was originally diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and said publicly that he believed the illness was caused by his long-time use of chewing tobacco.

Since Gwynn's death, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg and Arizona Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed have said they plan to give up smokeless tobacco. Both pitchers played for Gwynn during his tenure as head baseball coach at San Diego State.