Given the Angels massive investment in Josh Hamilton, his recent offensive surge would be a relief of sorts if it didn’t coincide with the notorious recidivist turning to a (legal) substance he’d previously tried to kick (with great fanfare).  From the LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna :

Josh Hamilton finished a workout with the team’s strength and conditioning coach Tuesday afternoon, went into the Angels’ dugout for some water, took a small wad of chewing tobacco out of his mouth and flung it to the floor.

Asked if he had resumed chewing tobacco after quitting last July — a move that led to withdrawal symptoms and may have contributed to his second-half slump with Texas — Hamilton said, “No comment.”

Hamilton showed signs of emerging from his slump last week when the Angels swept six games at Detroit and Houston, going nine for 21 with four doubles, four RBIs and four walks. During the trip, Hamilton could be seen in television closeups spitting black liquid during some at-bats.

Is there a correlation between Hamilton’s surge and tobacco use?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hamilton said. “It could be anything. It could be one of those protein bars. Is this really a story?”

Told it was in light of his struggles last season and last week’s performance, Hamilton said, “Write what you see.”

Under most circumstances, I’d agree with Hamilton. If he wants to risk mouth cancer and fuck up his lucrative Head & Shoulders deal with one of the filthier (legal) habits imaginable, that’s his choice. But given the column inches that have already been devoted to his recovery, religious beliefs, allergies, light sensitivity, need for an “accountabilty partner”, etc., it’s a pretty fair line of questioning. If Josh Hamilton would prefer that media and fans only concerned themselves with his on-field performance, I think many of his critics would make that deal in an instant, provided he followed suit.