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Hamilton trying to put end to dipping

ARLINGTON, Texas – Josh Hamilton is trying to stop the dips – in his batting average and the chewing tobacco the Texas Rangers slugger has long used during games.

Hamilton has been in an extended hitting slump, with his average dropping from a majors-best .404 in mid-May to .319, but is only a couple of days into trying to quit the chewing tobacco for good.

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

Hamilton, who has been chewing tobacco for about 10 years, said he’s now using toothpicks treated with tea tree oil, gum or sunflower seeds.

While talking to reporters Monday, Hamilton was chomping on one of the toothpicks that were recommended to him by teammate Brandon Snyder.

After reaching on a first-inning single Sunday night, Colorado first baseman Todd Helton noticed the tiny stick protruding from Hamilton’s mouth.

“He goes ‘Tell me you didn’t just hit with a toothpick in your mouth,’ ” Hamilton said. “I was like ‘I’m trying to quit dipping.’ He was ‘OK, that’s a good excuse.’ ”

When Hamilton made a running catch on the warning track in the ninth inning of that game, he said he had gum instead in his mouth.

Hamilton was 1 for 12 with eight strikeouts in the three-game weekend series against the Rockies.