Josh Hamilton reveals “mystery issue” is chewing tobacco

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Josh Hamilton has yet to reveal the nature of the mystery issue he’s repeatedly made cryptic comments about for the past week, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the former MVP’s inability to quit chewing tobacco is the source.

Hamilton unsuccessfully tried to quit last year and then went public with a follow-up effort last month, but apparently it didn’t take.

Considering how open he’s been about the chewing tobacco habit in the past it seems a little odd that he’d be so cryptic about the situation this time around, particularly since his comments led to speculation about a variety of potential off-field issues and caused both manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels to address the situation.

Here’s the initial Hamilton comments that started all the rumors and speculation last week:

I’ve been shown a lot of things over the past week. There’s disobedience and there’s obedience to God. I’ve been being disobedient. It may be a small thing to you, but it’s a big thing to him. There’s consequences. It’s like a father and a kid. There are disciplines. You guys can chew on that and think about it.

I suppose “you guys can chew on that” was a hint. Or maybe not. And then last night Hamilton declined to reveal any details, saying “people are not going to understand” and “it’s nobody’s business.”

Hamilton has been in an extended slump at the plate, going from the best player in baseball early this season to hitting just .201 with 59 strikeouts and a .674 OPS in 49 games since June 1 and .178 since July 1. He’s shown some signs of life recently, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs last night and 6-for-19 (.316) with three extra-base hits in his last four games.

UPDATE: Hamilton issued the following statement:

Due to the speculation that occurred from my recent comments, I felt it was important to clarify what the “issue” was to which I was referring–both personally and professionally. The issue is “discipline.” Professionally, it’s been plate discipline. Personally, it’s been being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tobacco. I was hesitant to address the tobacco once again, because it’s an area that I’ve struggled with trying to quit in the past. I wanted to have some time of success “under my belt” before addressing again publicly, but feel I haven’t been given that option with all of the speculating out there as to what the “mystery issue” was. But there you have it. Discipline. Hebrews 12:4-5 and John 3:30.

A couple of former major leaguers choose to stay in Asia

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Two guys who spent some time in the bigs but who have found more success in Asia have decided to stay in Asia.

Darin Ruf has re-signed with the Samsung Lions of KBO, per MLB Trade Rumors. Ruf, who played five years for the Phillies but didn’t really have the numbers to stick, has stuck just fine in Korea. In two seasons in the offense-friendly league he has hit 64 homers and has put up a line of .322/.412/.587. His new deal with Samsung will pay him a guaranteed $1.4 million with $300K in potential bonuses.

The other guy — Nick Martinez — has signed a $2.5 million plus incentives deal to stay with the Nippon Ham Fighters of NPB. The former Rangers starter went 10-11 with a 3.51 ERA for the Fighters in 2018. He was 17-30 with a 4.77 ERA in four seasons with Texas.

Maybe Ruf and Martinez still have U.S. major league dreams, but guaranteed bucks in the Korean and Japanese majors is better than signing minor league deals and riding busses here.