Josh Hamilton is trying to quit chewing tobacco

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According to the Associated Press, Josh Hamilton is trying to quit chewing tobacco.

One would think that it shouldn’t be too tough for someone who has already overcome many personal demons, but it’s been a real struggle for him, not unlike many who dip or smoke regularly. Hamilton actually tried to quit last year, something we discussed on this blog, but it didn’t take.

In an effort to kick the habit for good, Hamilton is currently using toothpicks treated with tea tree oil, gum or sunflower seeds.

“It was time to do it,” Hamilton said. “It’s a habit and I don’t really enjoy it like I used to.”

Hamilton was actually chewing on one of the toothpicks when he ripped a first-inning single yesterday against the Rockies. That sounds a little risky, but hey, beats dying a slow death via dipping.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.