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Minor leaguers turn to chewing tobacco alternative

Minor leaguers turn to chewing tobacco alternative

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Chewing tobacco is an ugly tradition that's been around baseball for years, but many players are now turning to a healthier alternative.

Unlike Major League Baseball, smokeless tobacco is outlawed on the field and in the clubhouse at the minor league level.

Eric Skoglund, Idaho Falls Chukars pitcher and Royals third-round draft pick, said he and his teammates are turning to a product called Grinds.

"It's just coffee grinds in a pouch," said Skoglund. "It's safe, obviously, and it just gives you energy with the coffee, so that's definitely a huge improvement."

Skoglund's teammate, Ryan O'Hearn said the the alternative has put a dip in tobacco usage among minor leaguers.

"It's probably come on in the last year or so," said O'Hearn.

Baseball lost one of its greatest hitters, Tony Gwynn, two months ago. Gwynn, who lived to be just 54, developed cancer in his salivary glands. It was in the same cheek he filled tobacco with over his Hall of Fame career.

"It's a tragedy that happened to Tony Gwynn," said O'Hearn. "I don't want to be in the same situation, so it definitely goes into it."

Skoglund switched to Grinds not long after the baseball world was rocked by Gwynn's death.

"It definitely shows you're not invincible," said Skoglund. "That was definitely an eye-opener for a lot of guys."

With continued pressure on Major League Baseball to drop chewing tobacco from the game, you may see the habit soon grind to a halt.

"If I get to the big leagues, I'll just continue to use Grinds," said O'Hearn. "Hopefully kick my habit."

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