- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - Jason Hammel says potato chips have helped end chronic cramping issues. Now the Chicago Cubs right-hander has enough salty snacks to last the rest of the season.

Hammel was greeted at his Wrigley Field locker Wednesday morning by a 6-foot high stack of cardboard boxes filled with chips. They were a gift of Pennsylvania-based Utz.

“That’s classic,” a smiling Hammel said. “I should be well hydrated.”

Hammel left his July 7 start against Atlanta in the sixth inning when his right thumb cramped up on a humid day. Hammel has had cramping issues in the past, and his doctor told him potato chips would help.

“I looked at him like he had 10 eyes,” Hammel said, before it started to make sense.

“Potatoes are obviously a good source of potassium,” Hammel said. “Carbs, you’re burning off energy there. And salt, obviously. It’s not the breakfast or type of meal of champions, but there are quirky things for everybody.”

The 33-year-old said he munched on sea salt and vinegar chips between innings Saturday in his last start. He outdueled Yu Darvish by allowing one run and three hits with seven strikeouts in a 4-1 victory over Texas. And he had no cramps.

A new diet was born.

“What male doesn’t look for a chance to eat more potato chips?” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

A sheepish Hammel, who is 8-5 with a 3.34 ERA, leaned on the five boxes of chips at his locker and insisted he wouldn’t stray from an offseason conditioning program that’s left him leaner and stronger in 2016.

“The misconception is all I do is eat chips,” he said.

So don’t expect Hammel to morph into the look of hefty Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon, whom the Cubs were to face Wednesday.

“He’s probably never met a potato chip he didn’t like, either,” Maddon said.

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