Sportress of Blogitude

Nationals manager: Bryce Harper uses ‘herbal stuff,’ not chewing tobacco

Bryce Harper made some lighthearted news on Tuesday when he took a person’s phone and snapped a selfie of himself on the field before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park.

The entire scene was a whimsical example of a ballplayer having fun with fans, but astute observers noticed that the Washington Nationals superstar had what appeared to be a big wad of chewing tobacco stuffed into his lower lip.

Obviously, a lot of major leaguers chew, but given Harper’s rigorous dedication to health, fitness and well-being — he once declared, “My body is a temple,” when explaining why he abstains from alcohol, unhealthy food and partying — it alarmed some as it seems to run counter to the star’s insistence on living cleanly.

It turns out, though, that it wasn’t chewing tobacco at all. According to Nationals manager Matt Williams, it’s an “herbal” alternative to the bad stuff.

“No, no,” Williams said during a Wednesday appearance on “The Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan. “That is all herbal. He doesn’t do that. … That herbal stuff is available as an alternative to chewing tobacco. Yeah, that’s herbal stuff. So yeah, nobody needs to worry about that. He’s perfectly fine and doing well, so if he wants to put herbs in his mouth, I’m good with that.”

There you have it. Some will still suggest that Harper putting anything resembling chewing tobacco sends a mixed message to kids, but obviously he should be allowed to do anything he wants. And if he has chosen a healthy alternative to chew — Big League Chew actually would be a better option (minus the tooth decay) — so much the better.

[H/T D.C. Sports Bog]