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.

Alex Cobb exits game with blister issue

Alex Cobb
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Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb made the shortest start of his seven-year career after reopening a cut on his pitching hand during Sunday’s game against the Yankees. In the first inning, he worked a 2-2 count on four pitches to Andrew McCutchen, then made a prompt exit from the field after taking a closer look at his right index finger.

This isn’t the first time Cobb has dealt with blisters on his pitching hand; in fact, it marks the second consecutive outing in which he’s been prematurely pulled from the mound after reaggravating the injury. By Sunday’s start, the 30-year-old righty had already lost three weeks of the season to the same issue, though the Orioles appeared confident in his ability to make another appearance after watching him successfully complete two bullpens last week. He entered the game with a 5-15 record in 27 starts and a career-worst 4.90 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, and 6.0 SO/9 across 152 1/3 innings. At this point, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll get another opportunity to pitch in the majors before the end of the year.

Following Cobb’s departure in the first inning, reliever Mike Wright Jr. was tabbed to fill in for the righty. His performance yielded disappointing results as well: After kicking off the inning with three back-to-back walks, he allowed three runs on a Gleyber Torres sac fly and a pair of RBI singles from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. The Orioles currently trail the Yankees 3-1 in the fourth as they look to avoid a franchise-worst 111th loss.