SURPRISE, Ariz. - The familiar circular imprint in Josh Hamilton's back pocket is gone.
Hamilton, who has successfully waged a holy war against crack, cocaine and alcohol since October 2005, has quit using smokeless tobacco.
"I started doing it when I started doing everything else," Hamilton said the other day.
Hamilton knew he'd eventually quit when his daughter Julia, 7, started regularly asking him to do it about a year ago.
"You know it's bad when your 3-year-old holds up a water bottle, and asks if daddy spit in this before she drinks out of it," said Hamilton, referring to his daughter Sierra. "That's when you know it's a problem."
He's hardly alone.
Smokeless tobacco is a way of life in baseball.
A 2003 survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention determined more than one-third of major league baseball players use some form of smokeless tobacco. Its use often leads to mouth, pancreas and throat cancer as well as gum disease.
Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which some doctors say is every bit as addictive as heroin or cocaine.
That's one of the reasons it has been banned in the minor leagues since 1993. Five years later, major league teams stopped allowing tobacco companies to provide their product in clubhouses.
While Hamilton and Marlon Byrd sat in the dugout during the last game of 2008, Hamilton said he was going to quit dipping tobacco.
They agreed to do it together.
Hamilton didn't quit until Christmas, when he made a pact with his older brother, Jason, to stop using it.
"I didn't want to do it," he said. "I can't lie.
"I asked the elders at the church to lay hands on me. I haven't really thought about it. It's all about gum and sunflower seeds now. Prayer works."
Does it ever.
If you know Hamilton's story, you should have no doubts. Just a few years ago, the first player selected in the 1999 draft loved crack more than his family. More than baseball.
More than life.
But his grandmother's faith provided him with the strength and resolve he needed until he forged his own personal relationship with God and gained control over his addictions.
Two seasons ago, Hamilton played well for Cincinnati. Last year, after the Rangers acquired him for prized pitcher Edinson Volquez, he hit .304 with 32 homers, 35 doubles and 130 RBIs.
And as long as he stays healthy this season, Hamilton will be part of every MVP conversation. If the Rangers somehow remain in contention in September, Hamilton could win it.
Don't think Hamilton's strong faith means giving up tobacco has been easy. Without his faith, he couldn't do it.
"I was irritable the first day, and the next four days I ate everything I could find," he said laughing. "I prayed a lot and it helped me.
"My brother stopped for a week, then he started back for a day. He went outside the next day to get a dip and spilled the whole can. He took that as a sign and hasn't dipped since then."
Now, comes the hardest part because tobacco is such an integral part of baseball's culture.
First-round pick Justin Smoak, whose locker is next to Hamilton's, spends his mornings sending streams of brown juice into a into a cup until workouts begin. Smoak is one of many Rangers who still use smokeless tobacco.
Everywhere Hamilton looks, it's available.
When Hamilton saw Byrd with a thick pinch between his cheek and gum Friday morning, he sprinted across the clubhouse and grabbed his teammate by the arm.
Once Byrd jerked his arm free, he walked over to Kason Gabbard's locker, pulled out a tin and handed it Hamilton. Byrd was using an herbal dip that contains no nicotine.
Gabbard's girlfriend sent it to him in hopes he will quit.
"I was just checking," Hamilton said with a laugh.