MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Baker's toothpick has a purpose

Baker's toothpick has a purpose

VIERA, Fla. -- There isn't a day that goes by when Dusty Baker isn't without a toothpick in his mouth. It prevents Baker from using tobacco most of the time.

In 1992, when he was the hitting coach of the Giants, Baker was using chewing tobacco every time the team scored runs. It would eventually get him addicted to the substance.

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"We were behind, and the players call it a rally dip. I got a dip and it made me sick, lightheaded, and the [Giants] scored five runs," Baker said. "The next day, the team said, 'Rally dip again.' We got five or six more runs. The devil was in charge."

The following year, however, Baker had to think twice about using tobacco. An orthodontist told him he was forming some periodontal disease. The doctor suggested he go to the market and get some Australian chewing sticks. It helped Baker stop chewing tobacco except for when the opposing team has the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Baker will chew tobacco and have a toothpick in his mouth.

"I'll have both of them in there," Baker said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.