Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Baseball continues to toughen up on tobacco

Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz spit some chew into a bottle at his locker then dipped into the latest notice from baseball.

Big-leaguers are now getting a written reminder that smokeless tobacco is banned at stadiums in Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

One-page letters are being put in clubhouse stalls throughout spring training, where there is no prohibition. The notes come jointly from Major League Baseball and the players' union.

So, will Buchholz quit?

"That'll probably happen," he said from camp in Fort Myers. "If you get reprimanded for something, there comes a time where you're tired of paying fines for something you don't have to do or doesn't make you any better.

"You've got to obey the rules or there's consequences to it. We'll probably learn more about that when we get up north."

Nationals manager Dusty Baker was a big dipper for a long time. He has cut back over the years but still might pop in a pinch when games get tight.

"It's a bad influence for the kids. Big time. I'll say that. But also they're adults, too, at the same time," Baker said.

"We'll see. My daughter used to put water in my can and put it back in my truck. Or my son, he has lip check — 'Get it out, Dad!' "

Local laws will prohibit the use of all tobacco products at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park this year, meaning players, team personnel, umpires and fans. The letter advises the same ban will take effect at every California ballpark in December.

"I support it," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think that the intentions are there, and there's obviously going to be some resistance with players.

"Like it or not, players are role models, and we have a platform as coaches and players. So if that's the law, then we definitely support it."

Similar legislation has been proposed in New York City, and the Mets and Yankees say they back such a ban at their parks.

The letter being distributed to players on 40-man rosters and teams this spring reads: "Please note that these are city ordinances and not rules established by Major League Baseball. However, the commissioner's office will be monitoring players and club personnel for compliance with the regulations."

Smokeless tobacco isn't permitted throughout the minor leagues. There is no ban on dipping in the majors, but players, managers and coaches can't stick tobacco tins, cans or pouches in their pockets when they're on the field or in plain sight of fans. No wads stuck in the mouths during TV interviews, either.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons applauded the effort to cut down on chaw. He quit a couple years ago after Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn — a career-long dipper — died at 54 of salivary gland cancer.

"I was a tobacco user for a lot of years. I'm not proud of that. I finally was able to quit. It's a dirty, filthy habit," he said.

"I wouldn't want my kids doing it. You hope in some way, they can eliminate it and wipe it out."

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