Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' about thumb

PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun arrived in Milwaukee Brewers camp this spring feeling a little uncertain. That's a major step forward from last spring, when he showed up feeling awfully besieged.

Last February, Braun had barely unpacked his stuff when he did a mass interview in conjunction with his return from a 65-game PED suspension. Then he turned his attention to a position switch from left field to right field and some early concerns over a lingering thumb injury.

Braun is in a more serene state this spring. His wife, Larisa, gave birth to their first child, daughter Celine Elysse, in September. He's better acquainted with the nuances of right. And while he will never fully escape the Biogenesis cloud, he's in a lot better place than Alex Rodriguez is right now.

That leaves the thumb injury. A few days after the regular season, Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure, which involved inserting a needle into the base of his right thumb to freeze a damaged nerve.

PED skeptics are going to think what they want to think, but Braun's thumb injury appears to have played a significant role in his power drop-off in 2014. He hit only 19 homers in 530 at-bats, while slugging a career-low .453. He slugged .597 on his way to winning the NL Most Valuable Player award in 2011 and .595 while finishing second to San Francisco's Buster Posey in the 2012 MVP balloting.

"As a hitter, the two things you really need to be successful are your eyes and your hands," Braun said on a rainy Monday at Maryvale Baseball Stadium. "Whenever you have an issue with either of those two things, it makes an already very challenging game that much more challenging.

"The big challenge is, I couldn't really use my top hand. As soon as I made contact my top hand was irrelevant, so I was trying to stay inside a lot of balls and take an inside-out swing and kind of filet it to right field."

After finishing sixth in the NL with 650 runs scored in 2014, the Brewers are dealing with some minor issues and changes this spring. Catcher and 2014 MVP candidate Jonathan Lucroy will miss much of spring training with a hamstring injury -- although the Brewers hope he'll be ready by Opening Day. New first baseman Adam Lind is transitioning to the NL after playing nine seasons in Toronto, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez is another year older and closer to retirement at age 36. A healthy, productive Braun would take a big weight off everybody's mind.

"He's in a better place, coming in with more certainty," said manager Ron Roenicke. "We'll see what happens with the thumb when he gets out there every day, taking a beating and getting jammed sometimes. Hopefully that won't be an issue and he'll get back to being the player we're used to having."

Braun expects to have a more definitive feel for how successful his offseason surgery was by the end of spring training. For the moment, he describes himself as both "very encouraged" and "cautiously optimistic." His eight seasons in the majors have taught him that a baseball season can take some very unexpected twists and turns.

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Ryan Braun stands by storyline; new report surfaces

Phoenix - A handful of hours after Ryan Braun stated he would have no extra comment on a report linking him to a clinic alleged to have sold overall performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players, a new report surfaced Friday with the Milwaukee Brewers star leftfielder's name on further documents.

The new list from the Biogenesis clinic, reported by ESPN's "Outside the Lines," had Braun's name with the figure "1500" next to it. There had been no overall performance-enhancing drugs affixed to his name, but ESPN cited a source that said players on the list received performance-enhancing drugs from Tony Bosch, who operated the now-shuttered clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPN displayed the list that it stated was hand-written by Bosch last April. The other names on the list had been Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Francisco Cervelli, all previously named on documents published by the Miami New Times and/or Yahoo Sports.

The ESPN report stated the list was not "definitive proof" that Braun received or used PEDs. But it said a source indicated players on the list received PEDs and that there was "no other purpose to be on that paper."

Earlier in the day, Braun reported to the Brewers camp and met briefly with reporters. He stood by his earlier statement that his name was in the clinic's logs since his attorneys applied Bosch as a consultant in preparing their appeal of Braun's constructive drug test from October 2011 for elevated testosterone levels. That test outcome was overturned on appeal, allowing Braun to stay away from a 50-game suspension, with the announcement coming just just after spring education opened final year.

Arbitrator Shyam Das, who ruled in favor of Braun primarily due to irregularities in shipping his urine sample, later was fired by Major League Baseball in protest of his selection.

Braun said he would have no further comment on the Yahoo report and once again maintained he had nothing at all to hide and would completely cooperate with MLB's investigation into the clinic. Braun did not work out Friday, and the Brewers' session ended just before the ESPN report surfaced.

Braun's representatives did not respond to a request by the Journal Sentinel for a comment. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney stated there would be no statement from the commissioner's workplace until the investigation was comprehensive. As for the Brewers, club spokesman Tyler Barnes mentioned, "Nothing has changed with our position. We nonetheless refer any requests for information and facts or comment to Important League Baseball."

The document displayed by ESPN with Braun and the 3 other players had plus indicators next to their names. There have been circles around the plus indicators subsequent to the names of Rodriguez and Cervelli, reportedly to show the amounts had been paid. The quantity "4500" was next to Rodriguez's name and "2500" was subsequent to Cervelli, but no number was affixed to Cabrera, who was suspended final season by MLB for testing good for elevated testosterone.

The "1500" number subsequent to Braun's name was significantly lower than the "20,000 K to 30,000 K" notation subsequent to his name in the document published by Yahoo Sports. Braun attributed that figure to "moneys owed" to Bosch to serve as a consultant and a subsequent dispute more than the charge.

ESPN reported that Braun's name seems on another list of players like dollar amounts and dates but is merely talked about at the bottom of the web page below a line with "Expenses" written on it.

Lawyer Martin Singer responded to ESPN with this statement: "My client confirmed last week that there was an alleged claim for revenue owed to Mr. Bosch because he had been applied as a consultant by my client's attorneys in his productive appeal with MLB final year. Various witnesses can corroborate how Mr. Bosch requested over thousands of dollars for his consulting with my client's attorneys final year. My client has no partnership with Tony Bosch, and the only connection Mr. Bosch had was with my client's attorneys as a consultant. It is clear that this is all false."

In the course of his session with reporters earlier in the day, Braun declined to take questions about the Yahoo report, saying, "I'm excited to be back out right here for spring instruction surely looking forward to the World Baseball Classic.

"I have an understanding of why a lot of you guys are likely here, but I made a statement last week (about working with Bosch as a consultant). I stand behind that statement. I'm not going to address that challenge any additional. As I stated, I am happy to cooperate completely with any investigation into this matter.

"I respect the reality that all of you guys have a job to do. Component of that job incorporates asking me queries. I'm happy to answer any and all queries about baseball, spring instruction, the Planet Baseball Classic or something else."

Braun was asked about the support of manager Ron Roenicke, who told reporters two days ago that he did not think the Yahoo report ought to have targeted Braun without having evidence as to why his name was in the clinic's logs.

"Absolutely, I appreciate everybody's assistance," said Braun. "In life, when you deal with challenges, you see who supports you and who has your back. He certainly has been exceptionally supportive and for that I am really thankful."

Braun was asked about following his tumultuous winter of 2011-'12 with a different big season despite becoming below scrutiny and presumably with increased drug testing. He batted .319 with 41 household runs, 112 runs batted in, 108 runs scored, 356 total bases, 30 steals and a .987 OPS.

"In baseball, you deal with adversity in life you deal with adversity," he said. "I've constantly said via adversity you identify someone's character. It is definitely easy to do effectively when things are going properly. When you deal with adversity, that's when you see what you happen to be created of. You see what your character is.
"Certainly, final year I dealt with some added challenges and adversity. So, it was rewarding for positive."

Braun did answer 1 stick to-up question about PEDs. He was asked about MLB expanding its testing for human growth hormone to contain the frequent season immediately after previously undertaking so only once for the duration of spring education.

"I've often been supportive of the method," said Braun. "I've normally been supportive of additional drug testing or what ever testing they have that's obtainable."
Prior to the ESPN report came out, Roenicke stated he didn't anticipate the latest PED controversy to affect Braun in the slightest.

"As a great deal as he went via it last year, he's most likely applied to it," stated Roenicke.

As for Braun getting beneath investigation by MLB for possessing his name linked with the Biogenesis clinic, Roenicke mentioned, "I don't genuinely know what to feel about it. All of the information I get is from what I read from you guys. That is all I seriously know."

Roenicke noted that Braun has a particular knack for eliminating attainable distractions.

"I knew how negative final year was for him as far as his off-season. I am certain it was on his mind each and every day," said Roenicke. "I know what happened right after the choice when we went to distinct ball parks. I think the issue that was impressive was the way he played last year. He had the similar year, was second in MVP. Could have been MVP.

"I think it says a lot about his character, for 1. I assume he can overcome some factors that mentally some other guys are not in a position to do. Everybody's character is a small different. I feel everybody handles factors a tiny distinct.

"The guys with the makeup that can put things aside are a specific breed. They are going to perform greater for the reason that they can do that."
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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Ryan Braun healthy, ready to go

PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun can't pinpoint the exact date, but he can remember with some clarity when his right thumb began bothering him.

"It was a changeup against Joe Kelly in St. Louis," Braun said Wednesday as he reported to spring training with the rest of Milwaukee's position players. "I think it was an extra-inning game at some point in 2013."

"It's been a while since I've felt as good as I do now," he said.

A little research can pinpoint the moment exactly: It was May 18, 2013. Braun led off the 10th inning with a single against Kelly in what would ultimately be a 6-4 victory for the Brewers.

The numbers back up Braun's memory.

That single improved his career batting average to .314. In 920 games to that point, he'd hit 210 home runs with 671 RBIs.

Since then, though, Braun has batted just .264 with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs in 159 games -- he missed the last 65 of that 2013 season because of a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis drug investigation.

The 2011 NL MVP last year posted a career-low .266 batting average with 19 home runs and 81 RBIs. In September, he hit .210 with a home run and five RBIs over the final 23 games.

In the days after the season ended, Braun underwent a procedure to freeze the balky nerve that was causing problems.

Since then, Braun says he's felt good. Really good. And with the 2015 season a few weeks away, he's hoping to finally turn the page on the most difficult stretch of his eight-year career.

"It's an important year for him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's why it's nice to see him coming healthy and hopefully, we can keep him that way. When he's healthy, we know what he is capable of doing."

So far, Braun says there are no signs of trouble. He began swinging a bat a little earlier than usual during the offseason but reported to camp feeling fine and fully expecting a normal workload.

"I've been able to do everything I would typically do over the course of an offseason, which is encouraging," he said. "Hopefully I'll be healthy. But aside from that, I don't think I'll be limited or anything. I'll have to be conscious about how many extra swings I take and stuff like that, but aside from that I should be able to do everything."

More than anyone else, Braun's health will go a long way in determining the Brewers' fortunes. It's no coincidence that his September swoon coincided with a late-season collapse that left Milwaukee home for the playoffs despite leading the NL Central for 150 days.

"I think we've addressed that enough," he said. "Obviously, it was difficult, but it was last year."

"When you show up this year, you know you can't do anything about last year. None of us can change what happened. We wish things would have ended differently than they did but they didn't," he said. "Hopefully, the focus is on this year and doing everything we can to prepare the best that we can every day to be successful and to get off to a good start in April."

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No extra limitations on OF Ryan Braun's thumb in camp

Aside from limiting him to extra hitting early on, there are no extra limitations on Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun's thumb heading into camp, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Braun, 31, underwent a thumb procedure last October, and said in January that his thumb feels "significantly better" than at this time last year. He slashed .266/.324/.453 with 19 homers and 81 RBI in 135 games in 2014 while dealing with the injury.

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Ryan Braun approaches true test after offseason surgery on thumb

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun's annual appearance at Brewers On Deck carried a much different vibe this year than it did a year ago.

National television cameras weren't following his every move, while the media horde wanting to interview him was significantly smaller than the mob scene that waited in 2014 for his first public comments since his suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

However, the questions as to if Braun can return to MVP form still remain. Now they just revolve around his repaired right thumb.

"Knock on wood I feel great, it feels really good," Braun said. "Everything's going well, regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to kind of see how it felt.

"I don't feel anything at all. It feels great, so I'm able to do everything that I would typically do. No restrictions, doesn't prevent me from doing anything. I didn't have to alter any type of workout routine or my hitting or anything I do in the offseason."

Braun also knows the true test still lies ahead. The next step is seeing how the thumb holds up when he hits consistently off live pitching in spring training. Then come the rigors of the regular season, especially during early season games in which the temperature might be under 50 degrees.

After being plagued by a nerve issue at the base of the thumb for most of 2014, Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure on Oct. 2 in Los Angeles. A needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to freeze the troublesome nerve.

"I know it's significantly better than it was at this time last year, which I'm encouraged by," Braun said. "I think the real test will come in spring training once we've played games for a couple weeks and just every day, that wear and tear, see how it recovers, see how it responds. But I do know it's significantly better now than where it was last year, so that's exciting."

Unable to properly grip or swing the bat for most of 2014, Braun hit .266 with 19 home runs and 81 RBI in 2014, all of which were career lows outside of the season in which he was suspended for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Braun was batting .301 on July 26, but he hit just .209 with five home runs and 20 RBI in his last 53 games. He later admitted the painful nature of the nerve issue in his thumb forced him to swing "one-handed" for the majority of the season.

Would the Brewers have lost 22 of their final 31 games -- mostly due to an invisible offense -- if Braun had been healthy? All they can do is wonder, 'what if?' at this point.

"It's tough," Braun said. "It's tough for me, it's tough for us as a team, you don't get those opportunities too often, and as we've all seen, if you get to the postseason, anybody can win it. The challenge is just getting in, and I've now played long enough to know you don't get an opportunity to play those meaningful games in September every year, and when you do get those chances you have to take advantage of it."

Many questions surround the Brewers heading into spring training, but none are bigger than the health of Braun's thumb. If healthy, the 31-year-old is capable of masking other potential offensive problems.

"It's certainly big," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I know he's said that if he was healthy, things might have been different last year and maybe they would have. Having he and Aramis (Ramirez) both healthy and swinging it well certainly would have made a difference."

Braun carried averages of .314, 34 home runs and 107 RBI over the first six years of his career, which includes his MVP season of 2011 when he hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBI.

Over the last two seasons, Braun has played in just 196 games with a .275 batting average, a total of 28 home runs and 119 RBI.

"It's different when you don't have Ryan on the team or he's not 100 percent because he's in the middle of the lineup and he's the best hitter we have in the lineup," Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez said. "Without him, I don't think we're going to make the playoffs."

Added catcher Jonathan Lucroy on the impact of a healthy Braun: "We'll be a deadly lineup with everybody in there. I'm really excited about that; I'm optimistic that we'll score a lot of runs."

Braun is hoping to avoid another cyrotherapy procedure, but it remains an option --possibly even during the season -- if the thumb were to act up again. Currently, the right fielder doesn't plan on altering his spring training workload in any way.

"We'll figure it out as we go," Braun said. "I think that was something I tried to do a lot of last year. So we'll kind of see how it feels, see how it responds, see what the recovery is like. There are still plenty of unknowns, but right now, I don't really anticipate being limited at all."

If healthy, Braun remains confident he can still be the dominant offensive player the Brewers need in the middle of their lineup in order to compete in what is shaping up to be a tough National League Central.

Considering Braun is owed $103 million over the next six seasons, the Brewers have a lot riding on a return to form.

"The goal is to be the best player I can be," Braun said. "I've always said, as long as I'm healthy I think success is inevitable. Last year was not a good year. So hopefully, I'm able to stay healthy this year and get back to doing the things that I'm used to doing."

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Ryan Braun's thumb feels 'significantly better'

It remained a case of so far, so good Sunday with Ryan Braun's right thumb.

The Brewers' right-fielder was plagued throughout the 2014 season by a nerve issue at the base of his thumb, robbing him of his power and other offensive skills. Afterward, he underwent a somewhat experimental cryotherapy procedure on the thumb that so far has produced encouraging results.

"Knock on wood, I feel great; it feels really good," Braun said during a media session at Brewers On Deck at the Wisconsin Center.

"Everything is going well. Regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to see how it felt. So far, so good. It feels really good.

"I do everything I regularly do. I don't hit off live pitching but I take regular batting practice like we would during the season, and it feels good. I don't feel anything at all."

Asked if the test is still to come when he starts hitting more regularly in spring training, Braun said, "I know it's significantly better than where it was this time last year, which I'm encouraged by. But as I told you guys the last time I saw everybody (at Thanksgiving) the real test will come in spring training, once we've played games for a couple of weeks and that every-day wear and tear. See how it recovers, see how it responds.

"I don't feel anything at all; it feels great. So, I'm able to do everything I would typically be able to do. No restrictions. It doesn't prevent me from doing anything. I didn't have to alter any kind of workout routine or my hitting or anything I do in the offseason. So far, it feels really good.

"I feel as good as I ever do this time of year, so I feel great. It's always a progression to getting to the point where you feel comfortable with your swing. That normally happens at some point during spring training. But right now it feels as good as I could possibly hope for."

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Ryan Braun says troublesome thumb 'feels great'

The most scrutinized right thumb in Milwaukee Brewers history was a bit frozen Wednesday morning but otherwise feeling much better.

Ryan Braun was all smiles when talking about the progress made since having a medical procedure on the troublesome thumb, which was good news for him, the team and concerned citizens of Brewer Nation.

"It feels great," said Braun, who braved freezing temperatures to participate in the Brewers' annual Thanksgiving food drive with the Hunger Task Force outside Miller Park.

"I'm encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time I have to be kind of cautiously optimistic," he said. "When I get into spring training and start playing every day, I'll see how it responds. But it hasn't felt this good in a really long time."

Braun, whose ability to swing a bat was greatly compromised by a nerve issue in the thumb since early in the 2013 season, underwent a somewhat experimental cryotherapy procedure on Oct. 2 during which sub-zero temperatures were introduced into the damaged nerve via needle. He experienced enough relief to begin swinging a bat shortly afterward, with encouraging results.

"I've been able to do everything full-go," Braun said while taking a break from collecting food to speak with reporters. "I'm not limited in any way. I'm not hitting or anything at this point. I hit a lot right after I had the procedure done. I'll do my typical routine when I get back into baseball-specific activities in late December."

As for how the thumb felt when he did test it, Braun said, "Amazing. It felt really good.

"Right now, I don't feel anything, and I haven't been able to say that for two years. It would hurt shaking hands, writing, just doing regular, everyday activities. And I don't feel it at all.

"There was some residual soreness after the procedure for a couple of weeks. But, overall, it has felt really good. Basically, there was an immediate difference. So definitely a good thing, exciting."

A lot is riding on the thumb procedure standing the test of time, for both Braun and the Brewers. Unable to properly grip the bat and keep his top hand on the handle during his swing, Braun suffered through a subpar 2014 season in which he batted .266 with 19 home runs, 81 runs batted in and a .777 OPS.

The thumb condition worsened as the season progressed. Braun, 31, batted .226 after the all-star break with eight homers and 29 RBI. Over the final month, when the Brewers collapsed from first place and fell out of the playoff race amid a team-wide offensive slump, he hit .210 with one homer and five RBI.

"I said last year a few times, I really believe if I was anywhere near healthy, the season ends up differently," said Braun, whose five-year, $105 million contract extension kicks in after the 2015 season. "Hopefully, this thing continues to feel good like it does right now and I can get back to being one of the best players in the league."

The Brewers' offensive collapse cost hitting coach Johnny Narron his job, but manager Ron Roenicke survived and will be back at the helm next season, which Braun said is a good thing.

"Ron has been great," said Braun. "All of us have enjoyed having him as our manager. He's a great leader, a great communicator. I don't think that our failure had anything to do with his managing. It had to do with our playing.

"A lot of times managers end up being the scapegoat. But it certainly wasn't his fault that we didn't finish on a good note. So I'm definitely happy to have him back."

Should the cryotherapy treatment wear off when Braun ramps up his off-season workouts, he has the option of having another such procedure as sort of a booster shot.

"I don't think there's enough information out there on the procedure to have any specific knowledge of how it's going to respond or how long it will work, or anything like that," Braun said. "So we're sort of figuring it out as we go."

Asked if he wishes now he had tried the procedure during the season instead of waiting, Braun said: "Hindsight is always 20-20. It's easy to say that now. There was a time when I definitely wanted to do it, but I understood why we decided not to.

"I'm not concerned. I'm excited. But at the same time, I went into last year and I felt really good going into spring training. The first four or five weeks it felt great and I played great, and kind of reinjured it. But we just rested it. We didn't do a procedure on it."

Other than adding first baseman Adam Lind in a trade with Toronto, the Brewers have been relatively quiet on the personnel front this off-season. Braun said that doesn't mean the team is done making moves.

"It's early in the off-season," said Braun, who has been enjoying time at home with newborn daughter Celine. "Sometimes it takes time for any big moves to happen or occur.

"But I think getting Adam Lind is huge for us. Adding a left-handed bat to the middle of our lineup should be something that should really benefit us. It's probably been one of our bigger issues over the last couple of seasons.

"We've been predominantly a right-handed hitting lineup. And our division has really good right-handed pitchers. So adding a lefty to the middle of our lineup is huge for us."

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Ryan Braun given immunity by feds in Biogenesis case

In a Miami Herald report detailing the confession of Alex Rodriguez to DEA agents investigating the Biogenesis clinic that he used PEDs obtained there comes the news that the Brewers' Ryan Braun was one of the players given immunity from prosecution.

The report says Braun and eight other players were given immunity by federal prosecutors for their testimony in the Biogenesis investigation in which charges were filed againt clinic operator Tony Bosch and an associate. The other players given immunity were Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Yasmani Grandal, Cesar Puello, Jordany Valdespin and Manny Rodriguez.

MLB suspended 14 players for their involvement in buying PEDs from the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez had an original 211-game suspension reduced to 162 games by an arbitrator. Braun received the second-longest suspension, sitting out the final 65 games of the 2013 season.

Braun tested positive for synthetic testosterone in October 2011 but avoided a 50-game suspension on appeal and denied using PEDs for a year and a half before being caught in the Biogenesis investigation and subsequently suspended by MLB.

The report says Miami criminal defense attorney Frank Quintero, who is representing an associate of Bosch accused of conspiring to distribute steroids to high school athletes, said the government's deal with Rodriguez was "a farce" and that none of the players should have been granted immunity.

“From the evidence that we’ve seen, there is no question that Rodriguez and some of the other major league ballplayers should never have received immunity and, in fact, should have been prosecuted because they committed crimes,” Quintero said.

“The immunity given to Rodriguez and these other ballplayers is an attempt by the Justice Department to cover up their alleged crimes,” he added. “MLB committed the same alleged crimes that these ballplayers did by bribing witnesses, interfering with the state and federal investigations and obstructing justice, all of which was recently reported in New Times.”

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Brewers are optimistic about Ryan Braun’s thumb

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the Brewers are optimistic about Ryan Braun‘s progress following his thumb procedure

“He has taken some batting practice off a pitcher,” said general manager Doug Melvin. “It’s not like he’s playing every day. You’re not going to get a good feel and judgment on it until then, when you’re playing every day, seven days a week, taking BP and all that. That’s the true test.

“But, right now, it sounds like everything is great. He’s just going to let it go through the normal healing process.”

It was a rough season for Braun, who battled through and inflamed nerve at the base of his right thumb, which impacted his ability to swing a bat. He finished with a career-low .777 OPS, doing worse than that in the second half.

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Brewers optimistic Ryan Braun is making progress after thumb procedure

The Milwaukee Brewers won't know for sure until Ryan Braun starts playing on at least a semiregular basis in spring training, but all parties are optimistic about the procedure he underwent after the 2014 season to treat a nagging thumb injury.

"He has taken some batting practice off a pitcher," said general manager Doug Melvin. "It's not like he's playing every day. You're not going to get a good feel and judgment on it until then, when you're playing every day, seven days a week, taking BP and all that. That's the true test.

"But, right now, it sounds like everything is great. He's just going to let it go through the normal healing process."

Braun had trouble gripping a bat dating to early 2013 because of an inflamed nerve at the base of his right thumb. The week after the 2014 regular season, he underwent a cryotherapy at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles during which subzero temperatures were introduced into the damaged nerve.

A few days later, Braun swung a bat with encouraging results. He has taken limited batting practice since without feeling the discomfort that led to a significant drop in offensive production.

Braun, who turns 31 in two weeks, dealt with the problem in the first half of the season and batted .298 with 11 home runs and 52 runs batted in over 73 games. The issue grew worse in the second half and he slipped to .226 with eight homers and 29 RBI in 62 games after the all-star break.

When the free-falling Brewers needed him most in September, Braun hit .210 with one homer, five RBI and a .603 OPS. Overall, he batted .266 with a .324 on-base average and 19 home runs, all significantly below his career averages for a full season. His 81 RBI led the club.

Braun was a far cry from the offensive superstar who averaged 34 home runs and 107 RBI while batting .313 over a six-year period from 2007-'12.

Because Braun was unable to control his bat path as in the past, he lost plate discipline and confidence, walking only 41 times with 113 strikeouts.

In an interview a few days before the season ended, Braun explained how the thumb issue affected his swing.

"When you can't use your top hand as a baseball player, it drastically alters everything that you do," Braun said. "I've tried to adjust; I've tried to find a way to deal with it the best I could.

"At times I've been OK. But for the most part it's been really difficult, really challenging and very frustrating."

The Brewers have a huge financial stake in Braun being able to return to his previous form as a hitter. After next season, during which he has a $12 million salary, a five-year, $105 million extension kicks in that carries through 2020, with a mutual option for 2021 worth at least $15 million more.

That financial commitment is huge for the club even if Braun is productive. If he is not, it becomes an albatross that would make it more difficult for the Brewers to compete.

The Brewers and Braun considered other possible fixes for the thumb before settling on cryotherapy, a procedure with no real track record for helping with that type of injury. Now, everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that it will prove to be effective over the long term.

"It seems to be better," said Melvin. "He'll wait until January to start swinging the bat more often."

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Ryan Braun takes batting practice Monday

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun took batting practice Sunday and felt "pretty good," MLB.com reports. It's Braun's first action since undergoing a cryotherapy procedure on his injured thumb.

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Ryan Braun given go-ahead to swing a bat

Ryan Braun should know soon if he is finally able to swing a bat properly again.

The Brewers’ rightfielder returned Monday for a follow-up visit with physician Vernon Williams, who performed a cryotherapy procedure on Braun’s ailing right thumb last Thursday at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles.

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said Braun was given the go-ahead to swing a bat by Williams but didn't think he would try to hit until later in the week.

Braun and the Brewers hope the procedure, in which subzero temperatures were introduced via needle into a damaged nerve at the base of his right thumb, will allow him to move past an issue that has bothered him since early in the 2013 season. When Braun does swing a bat again, he expects to be able to gauge if his pain tolerance has improved to any significant extent.

Braun’s production decreased considerably after the thumb issue prevented him from gripping a bat properly with his top hand. Combined with the season-ending suspension he received for his PED involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, Braun was limited to 61 games of action last year, batting .298 with nine home runs and 38 RBI.

The thumb continued to be a problem in 2014 and worsened as the season progressed. After batting .298 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI over 73 games before the break, Braun slipped to .226 with eight homers and 29 RBI in 62 games in the second half. Over the final month, when the Brewers fell out of the playoff race in a horrible collapse, Braun batted .210 with one homer, five RBI and .603 OPS.

Braun finished with a .266 batting average, 19 home runs and 81 RBI. His .324 on-base percentage and .453 slugging percentage were far below his previous norms.

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Ryan Braun has procedure to try to fix thumb

Milwaukee Brewers rightfielder Ryan Braun had a cryotherapy procedure performed on his ailing right thumb Thursday morning with hopes of returning to the offensive star he was prior to last year.

Now, Braun and the Brewers will wait to see if it works.

The procedure, in which subzero temperatures were introduced into the damaged nerve at the base of the thumb with a needle, was performed by Dr. Vernon B. Williams at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. Braun will meet again with Williams on Monday, and if there is no adverse reaction to the treatment, he will swing a bat to test his pain tolerance.

Braun's thumb began bothering him early in the 2013 season, and his production soon waned. Combined with the season-ending suspension he received for his PED involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, Braun was limited to 61 games of action in '13, batting .298 with nine home runs and 38 RBI.

With an extended period of five months of rest, the hope was that Braun's thumb would be much improved this year and he'd again be one of the top offensive forces in the league. But it was evident as early as spring training that the thumb had not healed, and as the season wore on, it only got worse.

Much like the Brewers' offense in general, Braun's productivity declined dramatically in the second half. After batting .298 with 11 home runs and 52 runs batted in over 73 games before the break, he slipped to .226, eight homers and 29 RBI in 62 games afterward.

When the sagging Brewers needed him most, Braun was particularly woeful in September, hitting .210 with one homer, five RBI and .603 OPS. He led the club with 81 RBI but that was more an indictment of other players than an accomplishment.

Braun finished with a .266 batting average and 19 home runs, career lows for a full season. His .324 on-base percentage and .453 slugging percentage also were far below his norm. Braun walked only 41 times and struck out 113 times.

It was a far cry from the offensive superstar who averaged 34 home runs and 107 RBI while batting .313 over a six-year period from 2007-'12.

Braun said the ailing thumb prevented him from gripping the bat properly, resulting in greatly diminished results.

"When you can't use your top hand as a baseball player, it drastically alters everything that you do," Braun said recently. "I've tried to adjust; I've tried to find a way to deal with it the best I could. At times, I've been OK. But, for the most part, it's been really difficult, really challenging and very frustrating."

Braun and the Brewers explored many possible remedies for the issue before settling on cryotherapy, a minimally invasive technique. There is no track record of this kind of procedure being performed on a baseball player's thumb, but at this stage and considering other less attractive options, Braun and the Brewers decided to give it a try.

"The doctor said it went well," Gord Ash said Thursday afternoon. "He'll have a follow-up with the doctor and we'll see how he responds."

The Brewers certainly have a vested interest in fixing Braun's thumb issue. In 2016, a five-year, $105 million contract extension kicks in, a huge investment made by the club on the basis that he would continue to be the offensive force he was when the deal was done in 2011.

Braun expressed hope and optimism beforehand that the procedure would do enough good to allow him to grip the bat properly again.

"I don't feel like I need to be at 100% to be one of the best players in the game, but I've got to be at 80-90%," he said. "I have to be able to use my top hand in my swing to feel like I can do the things I'm used to doing and capable of doing."

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Ryan Braun to undergo thumb surgery

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun needs surgery to repair his nagging right thumb injury and he'll get it this coming week, the Brewers have announced. The rare procedure will involve freezing a nerve near his thumb.

The injury has been bothering Braun for much of the past two seasons, though it reportedly got worse later this season.

"If I was relatively healthy, if I was performing up to the standard I set for myself, then we'd be in a different place as a team. It makes it that much more difficult for me personally to accept the way the season went," Braun said (via Associated Press).

Braun's numbers noticably dipped as the season progressed. Through 43 games, he was hitting .318/.353/.565 with 11 doubles, nine homers and 30 RBI. The rest of his season (92 games), he hit .242/.311/.400 with 10 homers. In September, when the Brewers went 9-17, Braun hit .210/.319/.284 with just one home run.

Braun said the reason he didn't yet have the surgery is due to how rare the procedure is.

"The whole reason we hadn't done it sooner was because there isn't a lot of experience in doing this specific surgery that I'm getting done," he said (via AP).

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The Brewers are considering moving Ryan Braun to first base

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday that he has spoken to general manager Doug Melvin about the possibility of Ryan Braun moving to first base”

“I think he’s a good defender in the outfield, learning a new position that he picked up pretty fast. I think he’ll continue to get better in right. We haven’t approached (Braun) about it. It’s just kind of what the needs are. We have (Gerardo) Parra here now and we need to figure out what to do with him for next year.”

The talks aren’t serious yet, but the fact is that the Brewers have four outfielders — Khris Davis, Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra and Braun — and three of them are better than Braun. And, of course, Mark Reynolds is not a long-term solution at first base.

Braun, of course, would need to bounce back on offense in order to be worth his contract at first base. He has hit a poor-for-him .269/.323/.457 this year, with 19 homers and 81 RBI. That won’t cut it long-term in an outfield corner for a guy who makes what he makes, and certainly won’t play efficiently at first base.

Braun battled a serious hand injury all year. Milwaukee had better hope that was the problem. And not something else. Like, say, a big falloff by virtue of playing clean.

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Ryan Braun: To Undergo Thumb Surgery After Season

Braun will undergo a minimally-invasive surgical procedure on his thumb Thursday morning in Los Angeles, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Braun, who is in Sunday's lineup against the Cubs for the Brewers' season finale, has been playing with an ongoing nerve issue with his right thumb for most of the season, with his offensive production especially weakened in the second half (.228/.295/.379 over 254 plate appearances). The outfielder's greatest difficulty has come with gripping the bat, a problem he expects the procedure to fully resolve. Braun will turn 31 in November and believes he can return to the level of superstar-caliber play he delivered over his previous seven seasons, but there's plenty of reason to be pessimistic. His slugging percentage already noticed a steep dip in 2013 while he played amid an ongoing investigation for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, and the track record of players regaining power after the age of 30 is not promising.

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Ryan Braun ties Prince Fielder for second in franchise home runs

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Ryan Braun's thumb injury may be getting worse

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was a scratch Tuesday night because of ongoing problems with is right thumb. Here's Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Manager Ron Roenicke removed the struggling Braun from the starting lineup Tuesday because his hand/thumb was bothering him even more of late. The former all-star has performed poorly at the plate since the all-star break, batting .230 with seven homers and 26 RBI.

On this home stand, Braun was 3-for-15 (.200) with one RBI.

Asked about his thumb over the weekend, Braun declined to get into specifics about how it has affected his play. But Roenicke indicated it's not just the right thumb but also that hand that has prevented Braun from gripping a bat properly.

To state the obvious, thumb/hand injuries are troubling, power-sapping things that tend to linger, and that's precisely the case with Braun right now.

Braun's batting .273/.323/.471 on the season with 18 homers in 118 games. That's well below the former MVP's usual standards, and, as Haudricourt points out, he's been trending downward of late. Suffice it to say, this isn't good news for the Brewers, who, despite their ongoing spiral, remain in the race for a playoff berth.

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Ryan Braun's a new dad

MILWAUKEE —Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and his wife are new parents.

Larisa Braun has given birth to a baby girl, according to the team.

The baby's name is Celine Elysse Braun.

Ryan Braun is expected to rejoin the team Friday. 

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Ryan Braun leaves team for birth of child

Chicago - Ryan Braun has left the Brewers to return to Milwaukee to be with wife Larisa for the birth of their first child.

That makes it extremely unlikely that Braun would be in the Brewers' lineup for their game Wednesday night against dthe Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, despite the proximity of the two cities.

The Brewers already are down one outfielder with Carlos Gomez out with a sprained left wrist. Gomez could miss as much as two weeks of action while he recovers.

Gerardo Parra has been playing in center field in Gomez's absence. Assuming Braun is not in the lineup tonight, Logan Schafer probably will start in right field as the Brewers look to snap their seven-game losing streak.

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Ryan Braun continues to work way through thumb injury

CHICAGO -- Ryan Braun's nerve issues with his right thumb have been well chronicled, particularly during the second half of the season.

The slugging outfielder has seen his batting average dip from .298 to .274 since the All-Star break, and he's been hitting .160 (4-for-25) during the team's season-high seven-game losing streak.

"It is ongoing," manager Ron Roenicke said of Braun's thumb issues Tuesday. "There's times when he feels really good. You can tell it in batting practice, then he usually takes it into ballgames. But there's times where it's just sore and the swings aren't what he's used to. Now he tries to adjust. ... Now all of a sudden he gets out of whack."

Roenicke didn't rule out moving Braun from his customary spot in the three-hole, but that the lack of power in the Brewers' lineup currently has given no incentive to do so.

"We'll see," Roenicke said. "The problem is right now is that we don't have anybody who's really just crushing the ball. ... We need to have some guys swinging it well, so that when you make a move, you feel good about making a move."

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Lingering hand injury leading to plate adjustments for Ryan Braun

MILWAUKEE -- The lingering nerve issue in Ryan Braun's right hand and thumb has been well-documented.

Until a solution is found -- if one ever is found -- the Milwaukee Brewers right fielder is going to have to deal with the injury the best he can. It is obvious when the thumb is flaring up on Braun, as his swings become defensive and he lacks an ability to drive the baseball.

Braun is hitting just .239 with six homers and 22 RBI since the All-Star break, causing his batting average to slip to .279, 30 points below his career average of .309. The 30-year-old has finished a season hitting under .300 just twice -- hitting .285 in 2008 and .298 last season when he was suspended for the final 65 games for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"It's still there, but physically, I think he's OK," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Braun's thumb. "He just continues to swing at bad pitches. Some of it, he feels like he has to start a little earlier because of the hand and that causes you to chase."

The numbers back up Roenicke's assertion that Braun is swinging at more bad pitches than he ever has. According to Fangraphs.com, Braun has swung at 40.8 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone, far above his career chase-rate average of 33.3 percent.

Braun is swinging more in general and has the highest swinging strike rate of his career at 10.9 percent. He's also making contact on 69 percent of the pitches outside of the strike zone he swings at, which could lead to the assumption that Braun is getting himself out quite a bit.

"It is a combination of a lot of things," Braun said of his chase rate. "But more than anything, when I swing at strikes I put myself in a better position to be successful."

Roenicke, while acknowledging Braun isn't the only player on the Brewers with the habit of swinging at bad pitches, used a specific example to show the impact chasing can have. With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning Saturday, Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez jammed Braun on a pitch way off the plate inside. The result was a weak pop up, as Milwaukee ended up leaving the bases loaded.

With Braun often times taking an opposite-field approach at the plate this season, pitchers have routinely tried to get him out with pitches off the plate inside.
"They're pitching him in more, and he's chasing it more inside," Roenicke said.

Despite a dip in batting average, Braun has still found a way to drive in 74 runs thus far, which puts him in the top 10 in the National League in that category. But he's on pace to finish with 21 home runs and 91 RBI on the season, both numbers being career-lows outside of the year he was suspended.

There's no question the Brewers will need Braun to be an offensive force in the middle of their lineup in order to make the postseason and make a run in the playoffs if they qualify.

Since taking a day off in Chicago to rest his thumb after hitting .217 over his first 12 games in August, Braun has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games, including three home runs.

"I feel OK," Braun said. "It has kind of been a grind physically, so I've tried to make adjustments. I'm trying to make sure I swing at good pitches to put myself in position to be successful. I feel alright."

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Ryan Braun's struggles due to high chase rate

MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to a .221/.268/.377 slash line through the first 19 games of August, Ryan Braun entered Sunday with a .275 batting average. For Braun, that number is notable. He's only finished two seasons in his career with an average below .300, finishing at .285 in 2008 and .298 in his suspension-shortened 2013.

While Braun has admitted to still being bothered by a lingering nerve issue in his right hand, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Braun's recent struggles have been more due to a lack of selectivity at the plate.

"It's still there, but physically, I think he's OK. He just continues to swing at bad pitches," Roenicke said. "They're pitching him in more, and he's chasing it more inside."

According to FanGraphs.com's plate discipline data, Braun has swung at 40.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone this season, easily the highest rate of his career and far above his lifetime average of 33.3 percent.

While Roenicke acknowledged that Braun's not the only Brewer with an abnormally high chase rate, he conceded that the issue is particularly concerning with Braun, one of the team's best hitters.

He pointed to Braun's at-bat in the fourth inning of Saturday's 10-2 loss to the Pirates as a prime example. He came to the plate with the bases loaded and only one out, but Pirates righty Edinson Volquez jammed Braun inside with a 95-mph pitch, and Braun popped out weakly to the second baseman.

The Brewers didn't score after Aramis Ramirez struck out in the next at-bat, and the missed opportunity created a momentum swing in the game.

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Ryan Braun has RBI double, scores in win over Jays

Ryan Braun had an RBI double and a run scored in Tuesday's win over the Blue Jays.

Braun had one of the Brewers' seven doubles on the night, his only hit in four at-bats. It gave him his 70th RBI of the season, seventh-most in the National League. The outfielder has struggled in August as his thumb continues to bother him, and he owns a .275/.327/.482 line on the year.

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Ryan Braun drives in lone Brewers run vs. Kershaw

Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in a loss to the Dodgers on Sunday.

Braun and the Brewers were held in check by Clayton Kershaw most of the afternoon, but the right fielder came through with an RBI single in the first inning to give the Brewers an early lead. Braun hasn't had the same kind of production this season after last year's suspension, but he's hitting .285/.338/.496 and is sixth in the National League with 67 RBI after Sunday.

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Brewers Fans Forgive as Braun’s Bat Heats Up

MILWAUKEE — As the slider Ryan Braun had just crushed landed several rows up in the left-field bleachers, a horde of fans scurried to find the ball. The rest of the crowd roared, and fireworks boomed overhead.

Braun put his head down and kept jogging. His face was expressionless; he looked focused, determined.

For the rest of his career, Braun may be a polarizing figure everywhere but Milwaukee, remembered for how he adamantly denied using performance-enhancing drugs, how he accused a test collector of mishandling his sample and how, ultimately, he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal and was suspended for 65 games.

Like other disgraced stars, Braun offered apologies. He expressed remorse through the news media but did not discuss specifics. He wrote a letter to Bud Selig. He had dinner with the test collector. He called Brewers season-ticket holders.

Here, in Miller Park, Braun is safe from judgment, safe from the vitriol that followed him. Brewers fans seem to have forgiven him, at least so long as he keeps producing. This season, his first since the suspension, this is his sanctuary.

“Here, it’s always good,” Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s been great. But on the road, it’s continued to be tough. It used to be, the Cubs fans would boo him; some fans around our division would boo him. Now, it’s everywhere.”

Braun, 30, declined to comment for this article, citing his busy pregame routine. Roenicke seemed mostly pleased with Braun’s season, perhaps because he has not needed Braun to carry the load by himself. Three Brewers players started in the All-Star Game, including catcher Jonathan Lucroy, a potential candidate for the Most Valuable Player award. Fittingly, the Brewers led the National League with 58 wins entering Friday.

And just now, finally, Braun is coming around, Roenicke said.

To this point, he has had an up-and-down season. Over his first 22 games, Braun crushed the ball, with 18 runs batted in. Then an oblique injury cost him about two weeks, and afterward, Roenicke said, it took Braun a while to regain his form.

His power numbers dipped noticeably. Over the first six seasons of his career, through 2012, he averaged about 34 home runs, 76 extra-base hits and 107 R.B.I. a season. Entering Friday, he had a .302 batting average but was on pace for only about 24 homers, 64 extra-base hits and 93 R.B.I. this season.
That home run to left field, though, a two-run shot in Thursday night’s victory over the Mets, extended Braun’s hitting streak to 12 games.

During the streak, Braun was batting .383, with three homers and 11 R.B.I., playing as well as he had all season.

“He looks like himself lately,” Roenicke said, adding: “If you look up there, his numbers are getting where they should be again. He’s slowly picking back up there.

“Really the last week, I’m seeing the guy that we were used to seeing.”

Left fielder Khris Davis, who has pushed Braun to right field, was leading the Brewers with 17 home runs. Four players other than Braun had at least 46 R.B.I. But his standing on the team, after all the drama, appeared unchanged.

“He’s producing, and that’s what we need from him,” third baseman Aramis Ramirez said, adding: “We treat him just like we did last year and the year before. He’s one of our teammates, who just went through a rough time.”

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ESPN says Ryan Braun's power ratings are in decline

In a blog post headlined "Ryan Braun's power outage," ESPN's Buster Olney examines how different a hitter the Milwaukee Brewers rightfielder has been this season compared to past seasons, particularly 2012 and '11.

Olney quotes an unidentified evaluator who has seen Braun a few times this season, one in which Braun has dealt with a variety of injuries.

"Takes the ball to the opposite field a lot," said the evaluator. "I think he's more of an opposite field hitter than almost anybody in baseball. He doesn't really pull the ball anymore, and I don't think he hits the ball as far as he used to."

Olney then uses data about Braun generated by senior researcher Justin Havens, who found that 46.1% of Braun's hits this season were to the opposite field, compared to 32.8% in 2013, 31.4% in '12 and 27.8% in '11. He ranks 146th out of 163 batters in percent of hits pulled (30.8%).

Braun's slugging percentage notably is down when he does pull the ball. And his batted balls simply are not traveling as far, down 17 feet on average from last season. Braun also is chasing pitches out of the strike zone more than he has in the past — 39% this season, which Havens said is one of the highest marks in baseball. With two strikes his chase rate is 55% this season compared to 41.7% last season.

"The numbers are clear: a far greater percentage of Braun's hits are going to opposite field than in previous seasons, and the balls he does pull are being pulled with noticeably less authority," Olney said. "What has caused this clear departure is for others to speculate on, but it is clear Braun is not the hitter he was in previous seasons."

Olney notes: "Braun is having a good season, without question, with a .354 on-base percentage. He's on track to accumulate a respectable 63 extra-base hits — but with 19 homers and 37 walks, very different from his 2012 totals of 41 homers and 63 walks."

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ESPN's Buster Olney: Ryan Braun 'is not the hitter he was in previous seasons'

In a blog post headlined "Ryan Braun's power outage," ESPN's Buster Olney examines how different a hitter Braun has been this season compared to past seasons, particularly 2012 and '11.

Olney quotes an unidentified evaluator who has seen Braun a few times this season, one in which Braun has dealt with a variety of injuries. 

“Takes the ball to the opposite field a lot,” said the evaluator. “I think he’s more of an opposite field hitter than almost anybody in baseball. He doesn’t really pull the ball anymore, and I don’t think he hits the ball as far as he used to.” 

Olney then uses data about Braun generated by senior researcher Justin Havens who found that 46.1% of Braun's hits this season were to the opposite field, compared to 32.8% in 2013, 31.4% in '12 and 27.8% in '11. He ranks 146th out of 163 batters in percent of hits pulled (30.8%).

Braun's slugging percentage notably is down when he does pull the ball. And his batted balls simply are not traveling as far, down 17 feet on average from last season. Braun also is chasing pitches out of the strike zone more than he has in the past -- 39% this season, which Havens said is one of the highest marks in baseball. With two strikes his chase rate is 55% this season compared to 41.7% last season.

"The numbers are clear: a far greater percentage of Braun's hits are going to opposite field than in previous seasons, and the balls he does pull are being pulled with noticeably less authority," Olney said. "What has caused this clear departure is for others to speculate on, but it is clear Braun is not the hitter he was in previous seasons."

Olney notes: "Braun is having a good season, without question, with a .354 on-base percentage. He’s on track to accumulate a respectable 63 extra-base hits -- but with 19 homers and 37 walks, very different from his 2012 totals of 41 homers and 63 walks."

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Ryan Braun Returns To Lineup

Braun (back) is in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Phillies.

Although Braun intimated Wednesday that he was having trouble even getting out of bed and walking, the training staff has given him the green light to return Thursday to face right-hander David Buchanan. Braun will slot into the fifth spot in the order, marking his first start in the five-hole since 2008, his second season in the majors.

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Ryan Braun Expected To Return Before The Break

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Tuesday that Braun (back) should be able to play again on the team's current homestand, Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin reports.

Another flareup with Braun's back spasms resulted in his removal from Monday's game, and Roenicke decided it was best to leave him on the bench and give Logan Schafer the start in right Tuesday. Fortunately, it sounds like Braun's setback is relatively minor, as he's expected to play again before the All-Star break, though Roenicke did not say whether he'd be back before the end of the Phillies series.

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Ryan Braun expects to return soon from back spasms

Cincinnati — While he missed the Milwaukee Brewers' series finale with the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, Ryan Braun seemed fairly confident that the lower back spasms he's been suffering won't be a lingering issue.

"I'm OK," he said before the game. "Sore, but as back spasms typically go, just get treatment as much as I can today, hope that it gets better and do the things I can to get back as soon as possible."

The issue cropped up during batting practice before Saturday's game, and he wound up playing just one inning — striking out swinging in the top of the first — before giving way to Logan Schafer.

"I don't know if it was one specific swing in BP, but I felt it during BP and thought that I'd do what I could to play through it," Braun said. "And it just wasn't mobile enough for me to be able to really move around."

"All I can do is get multiple rounds of treatment today and see where we're at throughout the course of the day and tomorrow."

Braun doesn't have much experience with back spasms, but they're not something that typically lingers.

"It shouldn't, knock on wood," he said. "We should hopefully knock them out, and it's something that should go away."

Braun has also dealt with a nerve issue in his right thumb as well as a right oblique strain that forced him out for 14 games.

The timing of Braun's absence isn't great from a couple of perspectives.

Not only do the Brewers want to continue to play well with the first half of the season coming to a close, but Braun has been looking better at the plate. He's currently hitting .288 with 11 home runs and 49 runs batted in.

Knowing early on that Braun wouldn't be ready to go allowed manager Ron Roenicke put together a lineup that featured Jean Segura hitting second with Schafer down in the eighth spot. On Saturday, he was forced to bat Schafer in Braun's second spot, giving him two straight left-handed hitters with Scooter Gennett leading off.

"I didn't like yesterday," Roenicke said. "I talked to him before the game, and I told him, 'I don't want you in there if I'm having to take you out of there.'

"Because you set up a lineup for certain personnel, and when a guy comes out of a lineup or you think he has a good chance of coming out of a lineup, now I've got two left-handers back-to-back, which now allows them to bring in their two left-handers if it works out in the game, to get your two lefties.

"That's not an ideal way to do it."

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Ryan Braun exits with back spasms

CINCINNATI -- Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun left Saturday's 1-0 win against the Cincinnati Reds with spasms in his lower back.

Braun struck out swinging in the first and played right field in the bottom half of the inning. He was replaced in the field by Logan Schafer for the second inning.

Braun has been one of the Brewers' most consistent hitters lately. He had an eight-game hitting streak snapped during a 4-2 loss on Friday night. Braun is batting .289 with 11 homers and a team-high 49 RBIs.

Braun missed 14 games in May because of a strained right oblique. He's started 68 games, including one as a designated hitter.

The NL Central leaders are an NL-best 52-36.

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Ryan Braun drives in a pair Wednesday

Ryan Braun singled and had a two-RBI triple in Wednesday's loss to the Blue Jays.

He was fortunate to get his two-RBI triple in the third inning, as Colby Rasmus took a bad route and made an ill-timed jump before the ball went off his glove. Nevertheless, it was another nice day for Braun, who is now hitting .333 with a homer and 14 RBI over his last 14 games.

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Ryan Braun could miss Monday's game

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that Ryan Braun suffered a minor ankle injury on Sunday and could be forced to miss Monday's game.

The ankle injury is the reason that Braun was pulled early from Sunday's contest against the Rockies. It doesn't look as though it's serious enough to necessitate a trip to the disabled list, so expect him to return to the lineup at some point early in the week.

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Lawsuit filed by “close friend” of Ryan Braun is dismissed

MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) — FOX6 News has learned a lawsuit, filed by a “close friend” of Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has been dismissed.

The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee County Court on July 31st, 2013.

The lawsuit alleged Braun has been using steroids since his days at the University of Miami.

The lawsuit was filed by Ralph Sasson — a self-described “close friend” of Braun’s from grade school, high school and college.

The lawsuit contained documents that alleged or implied that Braun has been using steroids since college, that he accepted illegal payments in violation of NCAA rules and that he committed academic misconduct at the University of Miami.

The lawsuit’s primary complaint is that Braun made defamatory statements about Sasson after a business deal went south.

Sasson said after Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2011, Braun’s agent contacted him and offered him $5,000 for research that would help Braun beat the rap — including a background check on Dino Laurenzi — the man who collected Braun’s urine.

The lawsuit also accused Braun of encouraging Sasson to make prank phone calls intended to throw off ESPN reporters who were preparing to break the story of Braun’s failed drug test.

Sasson says he refused to make the calls, but he did perform research aimed at helping his friend.

When Braun’s agent refused to pay, Sasson threatened to sue.

He eventually got paid, but only after signing a confidentiality agreement, which requires that neither party say disparaging things about the other.
The lawsuit claims Braun violated that agreement by telling others that Sasson was “rude to the staff at Miller Park” and that he is “crazy.”

Sasson was asking the court for punitive damages.

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Ryan Braun falls to 6th among OFs in all-star voting

Brewers rightfielder Ryan Braun, who was third among National League outfielders in fan balloting for the all-star team in the first round of voting, has dropped to sixth in the second round.

Teammate Carlos Gomez moved ahead of Braun into fifth place among NL outfielders. The top three outfielders in fan balloting will be starters in the All-Star Game in Minneapolis on Tuesday July 15.

Yasiel Puig of Los Angeles moved into first place among NL outfielders, followed by Colorado's Charlie Blackmon and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton. Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP, is fourth, followed by Gomez and Braun.

Puig had more than 935,000 votes, with Blackmon at 883,186 and Stanton at 863,307. Gomez had more than 819,000 votes and Braun more than 750,000.
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy moved up one place into third among catchers, following St. Louis' Yadier Molina and Buster Posey.

Shortstop Jean Segura moved up to third among shortstops, behind Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and San Francisco's Brandon Crawford.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez dropped one spot to third among third basemen in the balloting, trailing Colorado's Nolan Arenado and New York's David Wright.

Tulowitzki, the NL's starting shortstop in 2013 and a three-time all-star, has taken the overall lead in the majors with 1,419,718 votes to pull ahead of the top American League vote-getter, Mike Trout (1,361,649) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

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Ryan Braun making smooth transition to right

MILWAUKEE — Now leading off for the Brewers ... outfielder Ryan Braun?

It could have happened in spring training. But the Milwaukee slugger’s suggestion to manager Ron Roenicke went nowhere, giving Braun one less adjustment to make after returning from a 65-game drug suspension that ended his 2013 season early.

Two months into 2014 and things are going just fine for the Brewers and their star outfielder. Milwaukee leads the NL Central, while Braun is hitting .315 and making a smooth transition from left to right field. He’s even third in among NL outfielders in All-Star balloting as of Wednesday.

“Most of those things ... seem to be a result of team success but I think the better our team does, the higher likelihood we have of having multiple All-Stars. The fact that we’re off to a good start is encouraging in that regard,” Braun said. “But other than, I don’t pay much attention to it.”

Fans are still clearly paying attention to Braun. Just take a take a look around during a typical game at Miller Park at all the fans wearing No. 8 Braun shirts. They offered rousing applause after Braun’s hard bouncer down the right-field line for a double drove in two runs in the second inning of an 8-3 win Wednesday over the Baltimore Orioles.

On the road, Braun gets his share of boos. The 2011 NL MVP expected nothing less upon his return from his suspension from the Biogenesis doping scandal.
Braun had seven homers and 23 RBIs going into this weekend’s three-game homestand against the Chicago Cubs despite missing two weeks with a right oblique injury. The lineup has been clicking especially the five games since Braun was moved to the No. 2 hole as manager Ron Roenicke sought to spark the team’s slumbering bats. Braun is hitting .455 (10 for 22) with five runs during that period.

“I think it’s advantageous to get your best hitters as many plate appearances as possible, so if I’m hitting second I get 15 more at-bats or whatever it is over the course of the season than I would if I’m hitting third,” Braun said. “So I think it’s in our best interest as a team. We’ve certainly swung the bats well over the last 6-7 days, so it’s a good thing. So far, so good.”

The move to right has gone well, too. The switch was done in part to give left fielder Khris Davis regular playing time, and he has rewarded the Brewers of late by hitting homers in three straight games.

Braun has looked comfortable tracking down flies on the run and playing angles from his new vantage point in right. He looks right at home in Miller Park, and Braun said it’s a matter of getting used to the position as he goes from stop to stop on the road.

The move, along with the gloves flashed by infield newcomers Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, has boosted a defense that also includes Gold Glove-winner Carlos Gomez in center and the speedy Jean Segura at short.

“Overall I think we’re playing really good defense,” Roenicke said. “We’ve had sloppy games — I think everybody does — but overall I think we’ve done a great job of picking up the pitching staff.”

Pitching, defense and the emergence of Gomez, Segura and catcher Jonathan Lucroy have helped the offense withstand the losses of third baseman Aramis Ramirez (hamstring) and Braun for spurts due to injuries. Braun in April was also bothered by the lingering effects of a right hand injury from last season.

In one respect, the Brewers are less reliant on Braun — though they’re clearly much better when he’s playing. Milwaukee is 22-14 when Braun is in the lineup, and 10-8 when he’s not.

It might make a fan wonder what would have happened if Roenicke heeded Braun’s suggestion back in spring training to lead off. Braun recalled leading off a couple times in Triple-A.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done it in the big leagues that I can remember,” Braun said. “I want to do it, though. I think I could be a really good leadoff hitter.”
He’ll have to settle for second for now.

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Ryan Braun third in NL outfield all-star voting

Brewers rightfielder Ryan Braun, who wasn't voted to the National League all-star team in 2013 while battling injuries as well as a PED investigation, is third among outfielders in fan balloting in the first results announced Tuesday.

Many wondered how Braun would fare in fan balloting this year after finally admitting to PED use last season and drawing a season-ending suspension on July 22.

In the early going, with 446,780 votes, he is third behind Colorado's Charlie Blackmon (549,394) and Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen (467,378) in the outfield balloting. Carlos Gomez ranks sixth in the outfield voting.

The first three vote-getters go to the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 15 in Minneapolis.

Braun was the leading vote-getter in 2012 among all NL players before having a five-year streak of being elected end last year.

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Ryan Braun (side) exits early

Ryan Braun left the Milwaukee Brewers' game against the Atlanta Braves in the fifth inning Thursday night with tightness in his right side.

The Brewers slugger grounded out in his first two at-bats. He was replaced in the fifth by pinch hitter Elian Herrera, who stayed in the game in right field.

The Brewers lost 5-4 after the Braves staged a late comeback starting in the bottom of the sixth.

Braun returned last week from a stint on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. He is hitting .289 overall with seven homers and 19 RBIs.

The Brewers also were without center fielder Carlos Gomez on Thursday. He is day to day with ongoing lower-back issues.

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Brewers take cautious approach on Ryan Braun

Caution continues to be the buzzword with regard to Ryan Braun.

The Milwaukee Brewers' rightfielder was out of the lineup Friday as the team opened a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Brewers were also without centerfielder Carlos Gomez, who was serving the last day of his three-game suspension.

As it turned out, Braun's absence was precautionary only and had nothing to do with the 38-degree temperature or slick grass caused by the morning-long rain that soaked the area.

Braun was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday in advance of the Brewers' three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Braun had been out since April 27 after straining his right oblique.

"I was hoping he could play the three games at home," said manager Ron Roenicke. "The last two were important because of the left-handed pitchers. So that's why we took him out early that first game, to make sure he could play those next two.

"Then I didn't know — do I give him today, do I give him tomorrow? We just thought that coming off the three that today would be a good day to do it."

Braun went 3 for 10 with three singles and a walk against the Pirates, and most important had no further issues with his side.

"I thought his swings yesterday went well. Squared up a couple balls," Roenicke said. "I think he's feeling pretty good."

Elian Herrera started in right field against the Cubs and doubled twice and scored a run in a 4-3 victory.

Gomez, meanwhile, said he was doing better after a recent bout of back spasms sidelined him and ultimately led to him dropping his appeal of his three-game suspension.

"It's stiff today because there's no good bed at the hotel," Gomez said while riding a stationary bike in the tiny visiting clubhouse. "Today I feel better. But now that I'm warm it's good. I think I'm going to be playing tomorrow."

Gomez said he routinely sleeps on the floor in his hotel rooms on the road if the mattress is too soft for him. At home, in addition to being able to sleep on a firmer mattress, he uses a full-sized hyperbaric chamber he bought last year in order to help rejuvenate himself.

"It helps everything," he said. "You have a rough night and you're not sleeping good, you go in there and you sleep three, four hours and you feel like you're recovered completely. When I'm awake and feeling, like, slow, I go into the chamber and when I get out I'm (ready to go)."

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Ryan Braun makes list of 'most hated in sports'

Is Ryan Braun the most hated figure in American sports?

Braun appeared on an unranked list of "Most Disliked People in Sports," published Friday on the magazine's website.

Braun's entry in the list states:

After winning the National League MVP in 2011 and establishing himself as one of baseball's best, Braun was tied to the Biogenesis scandal and faced a suspension. He appealed and won -- and lied. After further investigation, Braun was hit with a 65-game suspension, mitigated by earlier public criticism of MLB's drug testing program.

Also making the list were Lakers owner Donald Sterling, suspended Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, Richie Incognito, Michael Vick, Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

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Ryan Braun not playing at 100 percent

Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said OF Ryan Braun (oblique) is playing at less than 100 percent because of a strained right oblique but he likes having a limited Braun in the lineup with 3B Aramis Ramirez (hamstring) is on the disabled list. "With Aramis now out of there, it would be really tough (playing without Braun)," Roenicke said. "And Ryan, he's good even when he's not 100 percent."

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Ryan Braun singles twice in loss to Pirates

Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles as the Brewers lost to the Pirates on Wednesday.

Braun collected his first hits since being activated from the disabled list on Wednesday. He had been dealing with a strained oblique and played only six innings in his return. On Thursday, he went eight innings before being taken out for Logan Schafer. When Braun has been healthy, he has been very productive, now slashing .319/.365/.574 on the year.

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Brewers activate Ryan Braun from DL

MILWAUKEE -- One slugger back, one slugger down for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Outfielder Ryan Braun was activated from the 15-day disabled list after being sidelined with a right oblique strain. He started Tuesday night's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 0 for 2 with a walk before being removed in the seventh inning. He was not expected to play all nine innings, the team said.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was placed on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He got hurt fielding a bouncer in Saturday night's 5-4 win over the Yankees.

The battered Brewers lost another key player when outfielder Carlos Gomez left the Pirates game after the bottom of the fifth with lower back tightness. He was not in the team's lineup Wednesday.

Braun was hitting .318 with six homers and 18 RBIs when he got hurt. Seeing Ramirez go down didn't add any extra urgency, Braun said.

The Brewers had discussed possibly sending Braun to the minors for a rehab game Monday but weather and travel issues curtailed that plan. Instead, the slugger was back his customary No. 3 position in the batting order Tuesday.

"I think he's going to be good. He's a guy that when he sat in the past he's been pretty good right off, so I'm hoping that's what happens," manager Ron Roenicke said.

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Ryan Braun has no health issue

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after Tuesday's game that Ryan Braun being removed after six innings was planned ahead of time.

Fantasy owners can exhale. The Brewers are planning to ease Braun back into things as he returns from an oblique strain, but he should be back to a full workload soon.

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Brewers counting on Ryan Braun

With Carlos Gomez expected to miss some, if not all, of the three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates beginning Tuesday night at Miller Park due to his suspension and Aramis Ramirez poised to go on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, impact bats are going to be at a premium for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Enter Ryan Braun, who should be ready to go after his own stint on the DL with a strained right oblique. His prep work done, a discussed one-game rehab stint at Class A Wisconsin scuttled by rain Monday, Braun will need to hit the ground running as the Brewers try to build off a weekend that saw them take two of three interleague games from the New York Yankees.

"I think there's always a sense of urgency," Braun said Sunday. "I think that sense of urgency may increase slightly with the fact that Rami's most likely going to go on the DL and there's a good chance that Gomey is suspended for possibly the whole series.

"But I think most important is getting me to a point where I'm able to play. It's not something you can force your way through. Obviously, you don't need to be 100%, but you need to be somewhat close before they're comfortable putting me back in there."

With Braun in the final stages of his recovery, Milwaukee squeezed out a pair of one-run victories over the Yankees. Sunday's was most impressive as the Brewers posted their first walk-off of the season with an unlikely heart of the order that included Logan Schafer, Rickie Weeks, Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds.

That foursome accounted for seven of the Brewers' 12 hits and five of the six runs batted in as manager Ron Roenicke tried to fill the gaps in a lineup that opened the season strongly but has since been compromised by injury and inconsistency brought about by a free-swinging approach.

In Braun, Roenicke would have his best all-around hitter back in the third spot, giving him a much-needed power threat as well as someone who is also selective at the plate. In 22 games, Braun is hitting .318 with six home runs and 18 RBI with an on-base percentage of .361, a slugging percentage of .591 and an OPS of .952.

Adding to the frustration of losing him to the DL was the fact that Braun was doing some of his best work just before being injured.

Three of his six homers came in the final two games of a four-game series with the Pirates at PNC Park. He hit two, including the game-winner in the ninth inning, in an 8-7 victory on April 19 and then another in the ninth inning of an eventual 3-2, 14-inning victory the following day that saw both teams engage in a benches-clearing brawl.

Both of the ninth-inning homers came against all-star closer Jason Grilli, who went on the DL with an oblique strain of his own shortly thereafter.

Since Braun was sidelined, the Brewers have gone 6-8. Ramirez was also battling through a major slump before being injured, leaving the offense without its anchors in the third and fourth spots and the team trying desperately not to suffer a second consecutive May swoon.

Getting a healthy Braun back should help, but the Brewers are still going to be at less than full strength until Ramirez returns. They entered the week tied with the San Francisco Giants with 24 victories, the most in the major leagues, and tied with the Giants for the best record in the National League at 24-14.

"You look around baseball and there's so many guys that are hurt, so many good players, key players, big-name players that are injured, and I think that makes it challenging for teams," Braun said. "You know from the beginning of the season that your depth will be challenged as a team, as an organization. It's an opportunity for other guys to step up, and I think we're up to the challenge.

"You never expect to get through a year with everybody healthy; you just know that inevitably throughout the grind of a 162-game season that you're going to deal with a lot of challenges as a team. Certainly it's a challenging time for us right now, but I really do think that we're up to the challenge."

One player who stepped up against the Yankees was Weeks, who figures to get opportunities against the Pirates. Pittsburgh starts right-hander Gerrit Cole in the opener Tuesday and then lefties Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez the final two games.

Weeks went 3 for 5 Sunday against the Yankees, driving in two runs and scoring the game-winner after doubling to lead off the ninth.

Milwaukee has won six of seven against Pittsburgh, including a three-game sweep of the Pirates at Miller Park in early April. Getting continued contributions from Weeks as well as others will be key with Roenicke now needing to fill the holes both in the leadoff spot and in center field because of Gomez's pending suspension.

"Every day and every game is important," said Gomez. "Rami's going to be out, but Rickie's the hot guy in the lineup, so put him in there and he's going to take care of business until Rami comes back. We need Khris Davis to start getting hot again — I don't think he's going to be like this for the whole year. He's in a little bit of a slump, but he'll be fine."

Cole and Gomez, of course, were two of the key players in that Easter Sunday brawl that also saw Martin Maldonado and Pirates players Travis Snider and Russell Martin suspended.

Snider has served his suspension, while Martin remains on the DL and won't play in the series. Even with some of those key players unavailable, the circumstances might well lead to an even more spirited rivalry between the two NL Central teams.

"I think they're going to come with more intensity," Gomez acknowledged. "I think it's good for the Pirates and it's good for us. You just come with more intensity in the game. Just play right and be clean and I think we'll be fine when all the emotion (is gone). They're going to come after us. They want to beat us bad and we want to do the same.

"It's good, competitive stuff."

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Ryan Braun not a given to be activated Tuesday

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Saturday that Ryan Braun (oblique) isn't a given to be activated from the disabled list when first eligible on Tuesday.
Braun took batting practice on the field again Saturday and also did some defensive work in the outfield. He feels fine, but Roenicke wants to make sure the outfielder is 100 percent. "He feels good; he swung a lot better today in BP, but he's still not probably there," said Roenicke. "We're still hopeful for Tuesday (against Pittsburgh), but I'm not sure. There's a difference in feeling it and whether it's bothering him. That's what we have to make sure of."

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Ryan Braun Ready To Return Next Week

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brewers slugger Ryan Braun should be ready to return from a right oblique strain in time for next week's series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The outfielder hasn't played since April 26. Braun was hitting .318 with six homers and 18 RBIs when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 3.

Braun took batting practice before the team's game Wednesday afternoon against Arizona. Manager Ron Roenicke says Braun should be ready when eligible to play his next game, Tuesday against NL Central-rival Pittsburgh.

Roenicke also says right-hander Marco Estrada was fine a day after the starter suffered a right leg cramp during a 7-5 loss to the Diamondbacks.

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Ryan Braun to DL with oblique strain

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a right oblique strain.

Braun hasn't played since April 26 because of the injury, and apparently the team decided a few days of rest wasn't going to be enough for him to recover.

It's a setback for Braun, who was looking for a bounceback season after missing most of last year with his Biogenesis scandal suspension.

The one positive is the time off should allow for a thumb injury that Braun's also been dealing with to heal as well.

Braun has put up a slash line of .318/.361/.591 with six home runs and 18 RBI this season.

Fellow outfielder Logan Schafer, who has been on the DL himself with a hamstring strain, was activated to take Braun's place on the roster.

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Ryan Braun sitting out fifth straight game

Ryan Braun has avoided the disabled list so far, but tonight the Brewers right fielder is sitting out his fifth consecutive game with a strained oblique muscle.

Elian Herrera subbed for Braun in right field for the first four of those games, but the Brewers just demoted him back to the minors and will apparently use first baseman/third baseman Mark Reynolds in right field now. Not only has Reynolds never started a game in the outfield, he has a grand total of four career innings there. So that should be pretty interesting to watch.

As for Braun, a disabled list stint seems likely if only because players with oblique injuries rarely are able to return within two weeks. He was last in the Brewers’ lineup Saturday.

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Ryan Braun May Miss Entire Cards Series

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun was held out of the Brewers’ starting lineup for a second straight game Monday with a strained intercostal muscle.

Braun, injured Saturday in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs, is still considered day-to-day. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke indicated Braun will not go on the disabled list, but he could miss at least two, and maybe three, more games.

Braun is hitting .318 with six homers and 18 RBI in 22 games.

The Brewers are playing at St. Louis against the Cardinals on Monday night.

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Ryan Braun diagnosed with strained oblique

When Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun left Saturday’s game against the Cubs, he was initially diagnosed with a slight intercostal strain. However, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that he underwent an MRI yesterday which revealed a strained oblique.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said yesterday that Braun was expected to miss 3-5 days, but it’s unclear whether the updated diagnosis will change the tentative timeline. We’ve seen on countless occasions that oblique injuries are very unpredictable, so there’s still a chance he could end up on the disabled list if he doesn’t see improvement soon.

The Brewers will be using a depleted lineup against Michael Wacha and the Cardinals tonight, as they are also missing shortstop Jean Segura after he suffered a deep gash under his right eye when he was accidentally hit by a warm-up swing from Braun during Saturday’s game. He required plastic surgery as a result and will likely miss a few more days.

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Ryan Braun expected to miss next 3-5 days

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday that he expects Ryan Braun (intercostal) to miss the next 3-to-5 days.

Braun suffered a slight strain of his intercostal muscle during Saturday's game. While it's encouraging that he'll avoid a trip to the disabled list, fantasy owners will have to have a replacement available for the first half of next week.

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VIDEO: Ryan Braun Accidentally Smacks Teammate In Face With Bat

This looks awfully painful…

Ryan Braun was standing in the dugout taking practice swings in Saturday’s game against the Cubs when teammate Jean Segura happened to walk right behind him.

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All six of Ryan Braun's home runs this season have come in Pennsylvania

Now that we know the truth, that all six of Ryan Braun's home runs this season have come at either PNC Park or Citizens Bank Park, will Major League Baseball put the state of Pennsylvania on the banned substance list? It must be something in the air, or the water, or the pirogi, or the Tastykakes, because once Braun steps into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he becomes the majors' deadliest hitter.

Perhaps lost among the bat flipping and and yelling and brawling between the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday was Braun taking Bucs closer Jason Grilli deep for the second time in two games, giving him three homers against the Pirates this season, all at PNC. Combine them with the three homers Braun had at Philadelphia on April 8 and you've got his entire home run output for the season, six. Add two more 6's, and you have the Devil's area code.

Away from the comforts of the Keystone State, Braun is 8 for 40 with nine strikeouts. One extra-base hit. No RBIs. Braun must be taking advantage of a loophole in the drug testing rules because, for him, the great state of Pennsylvania is one giant PED. And it tastes just like Quaker Oats.

jeffpearlman: “It is illogical to believe Ryan Braun is clean. You put up huge #s, get caught, suspended, return—and you're just as good sans PED? Um, no.”
10:50 PM - 20 Apr 2014

Or maybe someone who's interested should look into what the connection actually is between performance-enhancing drugs and a player's performance. Now that would make for some good journalism. In the meantime, we need to ban Pennsylvania just to be sure. PNC Park? More like PED Park. Citizens Bank Park? More like... Citizens Biogenesis Park.

The bigger reality is, the Brewers are 14-5 overall, including 9-1 away from Miller Park, (and 6-1 in Pennsylvania). They're also 6-1 against the Pirates, rivals in the NL Central. And right now, Ryan Braun can't miss if there's an Andy Warhol Museum, or a Liberty Bell nearby. Somebody must stop him before the Brewers go back there and have either Primanti Bros. or cheese steaks.

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Ryan Braun's ninth-inning homer carries Brewers

Pittsburgh — With boos cascading down from every angle of PNC Park, Ryan Braun let his bat do the talking Saturday night.

The embattled rightfielder went 3 for 5, scored four runs and homered twice, with his second — a two-run shot off all-star closer Jason Grilli with one out in the ninth inning — lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a dramatic 8-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I embrace the challenge of an atmosphere and an environment like this," Braun said, referring to the crowd of 32,490 that let him know in no uncertain terms each time his name was announced how he's viewed in Pittsburgh.

"As a competitor, I think it makes it enjoyable. It makes it challenging. One way or the other, they're either going to be really happy or I'm going to enjoy it. Facing Jason Grilli, you know you've got your hands full.

"He's one of the best relievers in baseball and has been over the last few years. I was fortunate I was able to get the barrel to (the ball)."

The Brewers led, 4-1, before a five-run fourth inning made possible by several miscues — defensive and otherwise — allowed the Pirates to rally against starter Matt Garza, who remains without a victory after his first four turns in a Milwaukee uniform.

Pittsburgh scored again in the sixth to make it 7-5 before Braun scalded a ball to left-center off left-hander Tony Watson with one out in the seventh. It went over the fence on a line, narrowing the deficit to 7-6.

"I was surprised it carried out," Braun said, his troublesome right thumb still encased in ice. "I knew I had backspun it, but I thought it would maybe one-hop the wall or if I got lucky, get it off the wall. So I was surprised that ball got out."

Mark Melancon and Jim Henderson (2-0) each threw scoreless eighth innings to set the stage for Braun's big blow in the ninth.

After Grilli fanned Carlos Gomez for the first out, Jean Segura fell behind 0-2 before slapping a slider into left. With the boos raining down on him yet again, Braun strode to the plate and wasted little time angering the fans even more.

Grilli threw a 94-mph fastball that Braun hammered to straightaway center, just feet to the right of his first blast in the Milwaukee bullpen. Suddenly the Brewers were back in front, 8-7, and very quickly closer Francisco Rodriguez started warming up.

"Seggy got a base hit and I took my jacket off and I hadn't even stretched," Rodriguez said. "I turn around and the ball is coming flying into us, so I had to start getting ready quick."

Grilli got out of the frame with no further damage, but Rodriguez got a little extra time when Aramis Ramirez was plunked the at-bat after Braun's homer.

As it turned out, Braun's homer represented the first two runs scored by the Brewers off Grilli since 2007, when he was with the Detroit Tigers — a span of 17 scoreless innings.

"That's the type of statistic we don't want to be aware of," said Braun, who has 20 multi-homer games. His previous, a three-homer game, came April 8 across the state in Philadelphia.

"I don't think many teams have a lot of success against a guy like that — or their whole bullpen, for that matter. Their whole bullpen throws 95-plus; they all have great stuff.

"There's a reason they've been so successful. So it's not a good formula to have to come back against a team like this, but tonight we were able to do it."

Rodriguez entered and got the dangerous Andrew McCutchen to ground out to third before plunking Pedro Alvarez to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Jose Tabata.

With two hits and two runs already, Tabata jumped on Rodriguez's second offering and hit a tailor-made ground ball to Scooter Gennett, who started a game-clinching, 4-6-3 double play capped by a terrific stretch at first by Mark Reynolds.

It was the sixth save of the season for "K-Rod" and 310th of his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Goose Gossage for 20th on the all-time list.

"It means a lot," he said. "When you're right there with a Hall of Famer, I take a lot of pride in that. But at the same time, I'm not pitching for records at all. I pitch because I like this game, not for records or anything. But it's a privilege for me to be on that list."

And so it goes for the Brewers, who still hold the best record in the major leagues at 13-5 and sport an impressive 8-1 road record after stealing victories each of the last two nights from the Pirates.

On Friday, Milwaukee overcame four errors in the field and a couple of more on the base paths to win, 5-3. There were even more miscues in this one, but the Brewers were able to prevail again on the strength of Braun's big performance.

"We won another game that we probably shouldn't have won," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

Rodriguez put it another way.

"We feel like we just took one out of their pocket," he said. "The crazy game yesterday, the way it ended up today, we'll take it. You're catching breaks, you have to capitalize and take it."

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Ryan Braun still bothered by thumb

Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun (thumb) is still being bothered by his ailing right thumb, which is why he was held out Wednesday, April 16. He's hitting .269 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, but his homers and seven of his RBIs came in one day on April 8.

Fantasy Tip: This is something you'll need to keep an eye on. Braun started slow, minus the breakout game against the Phillies. He may need to continue to be rested in the near future to avoid making his thumb worse.

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Ryan Braun channels the booing to his advantage

Philadelphia – Ryan Braun knows he’s going to be booed at every stop on the road this season for the Milwaukee Brewers, some places louder than others.
But, according to manager Ron Roenicke, boo the Brewers’ embattled star at your own risk.

“At times, it certainly drives him,” Roenicke said Tuesday night after Braun whacked three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 10-4 romp over Philadelphia.

“There’s no question about that. He’s a special hitter. Those guys, when they turn it up, they turn it up.

“I was with the Angels (as a coach) a few years back and we let Jose Guillen go. And there were some kind of negative things along with that. And every time he came back in town, our fans would boo him. And every time they’d boo him, he got a huge hit. And I was just like, ‘Leave him alone.’

“Really, it makes a difference. Those guys who can turn it up, you don’t want to be messing with him. Here, definitely, it is rough. He’s going to deal with this issue. There’s no better way to quiet people up than doing what he’s doing.”

During the Phillies' home opener, Braun definitely heard his share of boos – and then some. But it wasn’t the first time that happened, and it won’t be the last, so Braun said he just tries to channel that energy to his advantage.

“I dealt with it the last two years,” said Braun, who became a primary target of boo-birds by finally admitting to PED use during his 2011 MVP season and accepting a season-ending 65-game suspension in 2013.

“It’s nothing new to me. I dealt with it in 2012 season. It’s not anything that’s really new to me or anything I haven’t experienced before.

“I try to use it to my advantage. As a competitor, the more hostile the environment, the more enjoyable it can be. I just focus on things I can control. I focus every day on trying to be successful.

“It’s great when we’re coming into places like this and winning games. I think here and Boston are probably two of the most challenging places to come in and win games. Just do what I can to help our team win.”

If the booing actually fuels Braun, he was asked if he’d like it to continue.

“I wouldn’t say that I want it, if it’s my choice,” he said with a smile. “But I don’t know that I have much of a say in the way fans are going to react. So, I might as well make the best of it and use it to my advantage and use as motivation.”

No matter how motivated he was in Boston, Braun struggled at the plate because a chronic right thumb issue flared up. But, with a change in the padding in his batting glove and an adjustment in his stride at the plate, he produced the second three-homer game of his career against Philly.

“I’ve dealt with it for a while,” said Braun, who had no homers or RBI before his big game against the Phillies. “There’s some ebb and flow, good and bad. I’m optimistic and hopeful that eventually we’ll figure something out that makes a difference but I’ve dealt with it for a while.

“The longer you deal with any injury, the easier it becomes to find a way to compensate. So, hopefully I’ll find a swing that I’m comfortable with.”

That’s the hope of everyone with the Brewers, because a productive Braun makes a deep lineup considerably more dangerous.

“Everybody knows he’s been struggling with this,” said Roenicke. “When that power shows up again, it’s a relief for all of us because this guy is important for us in our lineup. He doesn’t necessarily have to drive balls all the time but it’s important, in that third spot, to be good hitter.

“We need him to be that kind of guy. Not always launching balls out of the park, but to just be a good hitter.”

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WATCH: proCane Ryan Braun Hit 3 Homeruns Vs Phillies

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was welcomed to the City of Brotherly Love with a hearty chorus of boos on Tuesday, but the jeers only seemed to inspire him. Braun, who just finished serving a suspension for violating MLB’s substance policy, knocked out two home runs in the game, including the three-run shot shown above. UPDATE: Braun added a third home run.

He also robbed a base hit with this incredible diving catch.

Learn the lesson, fans in other cities: Don’t boo Ryan Braun. It only makes him stronger.

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Ryan Bruan to Play Through Thumb Injury

(NEW YORK) -- Even though he's dealing with a thumb injury that could effect his performance at the plate, Milwaukee Brewers  outfielder Ryan Braun will play.

Braun's thumb has bothered him in the past, but he elected to not undergo surgery. Despite the setback, he still has no plans to undergo a procedure to help him recover.

"It's frustrating," he said. "I've dealt with it a long time. Like I said, I'm optimistic we'll figure something out and make it better. But when it gets to a point I can't come close to taking a normal swing, it's counterproductive to the team and to me to continue to play."

It's still very early, but Braun has struggled this season for the Brewers. In five games, he's batting .150 and has no extra base hits.

Braun returned this season after serving a 65-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

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Ryan Braun has two hits in return to field Sunday

Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and run scored in Sunday's win over the Red Sox.

Braun played designated hitter in Friday's game and sat out Saturday due to a nerve issue in his right thumb, but he was back in right field for Sunday's contest. The hits were his first since Opening Day, and it was his first multi-hit game of the year. The nerve issue is still a concern, but Sunday alleviates at least a tiny bit of concern about his ability to hit while managing the issue.

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Eventful return for Ryan Braun in Brewers' opening day victory

MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun stepped into the batter's box, admittedly a bit anxious. The sellout crowd at Miller Park quickly put him at ease, showering him with a standing ovation.

First day back on the job after a drug suspension was already a day to remember for the Brewers slugger. Then he added another unique footnote to his career.

Braun went 1 for 4 and stole a base that helped set up a two-run inning, and later was ruled out in the first call overturned under baseball's expanded replay system as Milwaukee beat the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Monday in a season opener.

The former MVP was returning from suspension for the final 65 games last year in the Biogenesis doping scandal. Played his first game as a right fielder, too.

What a way to start the season.

"It was special. It was an emotional moment for me," Braun said.

Braun said the ovation affected him. He flied out to left.

"Swung at some pitches that I typically don't swing at, but it's something that I'm very thankful for and very appreciative," Braun said.

Later, Braun had his infield single to lead off the sixth overturned to out after the call was challenged by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez under Major League Baseball's new replay format.

The review took 58 seconds.

"I had a pretty good idea that I was out," Braun said, drawing laughs. "For all of us, we just hope they get it right, and they did get it right."

Two years ago, Braun became the first MLB player to get a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs overturned. Originally banned for 50 games, he filed a grievance and won.

Yovani Gallardo (1-0) tossed six shutout innings for the win. He allowed just four hits in becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to make five straight opening day starts.

A Braves lineup being relied on to help overcome the adversity to the injury-plagued pitching staff was silenced. Andrelton Simmons finished with two hits.

"You go up there, your third at-bat and (Gallardo) will throw you something completely different," said cleanup hitter Chris Johnson, who went 1 for 4 with a double. "Where did that come from? ... He's one of the tougher guys in the league."

In a bit of a surprise, Francisco Rodriguez struck out two in the ninth for his 305th career save. The veteran righty looked fine about two weeks after accidentally stepping on a cactus during spring training.

Manager Ron Roenicke said he turned to Rodriguez because Jim Henderson, who had 28 saves last season, was having a little trouble of late with his stuff. He hoped a couple outings outside the ninth would help Henderson get straightened out.

With injuries to pitchers including Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, Atlanta started Julio Teheran (0-1) after a nice spring. He allowed seven hits in six innings.

"For his first start, for his first opening day, I thought he did a terrific job," Gonzalez said.

But all eyes in Miller Park were on Braun to start after the 2011 NL MVP played his first game since July 21. He was banned the next day.

It seemed like all was forgiven for most of the 45,691 fans in attendance.

Braun's hit and steal set up a two-run double by Aramis Ramirez in the fourth.

"It's special, we all know what he went through last year," Ramirez said. "For the fans to do that, it was very special."

Braun and Ramirez also missed time last season because of injuries.

With their third- and fourth-place hitters back, the Brewers like their chances with an offence that also features the speedy Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura at the top of the order. If the rest of the starting rotation throws like Gallardo, Milwaukee could challenge St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the NL Central.

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Ryan Braun sends Braves to 2-0 loss in season opener in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers star Ryan Braun drew a standing ovation in his return from a drug suspension, then was ruled out in the first call overturned under baseball's expanded replay system as Milwaukee beat the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Monday in a season opener.

Braun went 1 for 4 and stole a base in the fourth inning that helped set up a two-run double by Aramis Ramirez.

A smattering of boos during Braun's first at-bat was easily drowned out by the overwhelming applause. The former MVP was suspended for the final 65 games last year in the Biogenesis doping scandal.

"It was special. It was an emotional moment for me," Braun said of the ovation.

Later, Braun had his infield single to lead off the sixth overturned to out after the call was challenged by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez under Major League Baseball's new replay format.

The review took 58 seconds.

"I had a pretty good idea that I was out," Braun said, drawing laughs. "For all of us, we just hope they get it right, and they did get it right."

Yovani Gallardo (1-0) tossed six shutout innings for the win.

Francisco Rodriguez got the save, the 305th of his career. The veteran righty looked fine about two weeks after accidentally stepping on a cactus during spring training.

Making his first opening day start, Julio Teheran (0-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.

But all eyes in Miller Park were on Braun to start after the 2011 NL MVP played his first game since July 21. He was banned the next day.

It seemed like all was forgiven for most of the 45,000-plus fans in attendance.

"It's special, we all know what he went through last year," Ramirez said. "For the fans to do that, it was very special."

Braun and Ramirez also missed time last season due to injuries.

With their third- and fourth-place hitters back, the Brewers like their chances with an offense that also features the speedy Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura at the top of the order. If the rest of the starting rotation throws like Gallardo, Milwaukee could challenge St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the NL Central.

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Ryan Braun still 'under a microscope'

Ryan Braun has made all the right moves since his suspension, but Milwaukee Brewers lead owner Mark Attanasio said Braun needs to keep doing the right thing this season to totally win back Attanasio's trust.

"He's still under a microscope and I think he'll rise to the challenge," Attanasio said Monday during a press conference before the team's Opening Day at Miller Park. "We want to see him continue to rise the the challenge."

Braun will need to continue showing his commitment to the team and the community and "not break the rules again," Attanasio said.

During the later part of the 2013 season and the offseason, Braun pursued a path toward redemption, Attanasio said. Braun called sponsors and season ticket holders on his own, Attanasio said. Braun also participated in charity events and participated in the team's January fan fest, Attanasio noted.

"Since that point in July (2013 suspension date), he has taken some good steps towards embracing the community, his teammates and Major League Baseball," Attanasio said.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the organization appreciated Braun's willingness to switch to right field from left field without questioning the decision.

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Ryan Braun 'not tainted goods forever' in product endorsements

Ryan Braun’s name as an All-Star product endorser became mud in 2013, but can the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder ever regain his spokesman status?

Some corporate sponsors dropped Braun when media coverage first arose that he was being investigated by Major League Baseball. His remaining sponsors dumped Braun in July 2013 when he was suspended for violating MLB’s drug prevention and treatment program.

Among the endorsements Braun lost were Kwik Trip, AirTran Airways, Nike and Muscle Milk. He also appeared in Associated Bank promotions and had his name on three restaurants with SURG Restaurant Group.

Braun, through a Brewers spokesman, declined to comment.

Braun’s efforts to resurrect his star status with Brewers fans, and possibly with advertisers, is a major focus of my coverage Friday in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s print edition. The package looks at the Milwaukee Brewers organization’s business challenges entering the 2014 season.

Somewhat surprisingly, Braun already has two deals for the upcoming season: Franklin Sports Inc. and its “Natural II” batting gloves and 3N2’s baseball and softball footwear and apparel.

3N2 president Marty Graham told me his company never could have afforded to hire Braun before his suspension, but jumped at the opportunity after Nike dropped him.

“Let’s face it — he’s made mistakes,” Graham said. “Obviously we’re working toward the future. We understand a lot of trust needs to be re-earned by Ryan.”

Franklin Sports executives are working with Braun because they view him as one of the best hitters in baseball, said Adam Franklin, director of e-commerce and marketing.

Ryan Braun’s name as an All-Star product endorser became mud in 2013, but can the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder ever regain his spokesman status?

Some corporate sponsors dropped Braun when media coverage first arose that he was being investigated by Major League Baseball. His remaining sponsors dumped Braun in July 2013 when he was suspended for violating MLB’s drug prevention and treatment program.

Among the endorsements Braun lost were Kwik Trip, AirTran Airways, Nike and Muscle Milk. He also appeared in Associated Bank promotions and had his name on three restaurants with SURG Restaurant Group.

Braun, through a Brewers spokesman, declined to comment.

Braun’s efforts to resurrect his star status with Brewers fans, and possibly with advertisers, is a major focus of my coverage Friday in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s print edition. The package looks at the Milwaukee Brewers organization’s business challenges entering the 2014 season.

Somewhat surprisingly, Braun already has two deals for the upcoming season: Franklin Sports Inc. and its “Natural II” batting gloves and 3N2’s baseball and softball footwear and apparel.

3N2 president Marty Graham told me his company never could have afforded to hire Braun before his suspension, but jumped at the opportunity after Nike dropped him.

“Let’s face it — he’s made mistakes,” Graham said. “Obviously we’re working toward the future. We understand a lot of trust needs to be re-earned by Ryan.”
Franklin Sports executives are working with Braun because they view him as one of the best hitters in baseball, said Adam Franklin, director of e-commerce and marketing.

“Everyone deserves a second chance and while we do not condone what happened, we believe that Ryan will be a valuable asset to the Brewers this season,” Franklin said.

Braun will need to start small with underdog brands like 3N2 as he attempts to rebuild his cache, said Dany Berghoff, vice president of sponsorships at the Paley Center for Media in New York City and an expert on athlete endorsement deals.

The key will be for Braun to perform well on the field and stay clean in his drug tests, Berghoff said.

“It’s going to take a real sustained effort by him,” Berghoff said. “I don’t think he’s tainted goods forever.”

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Ryan Braun ready for another fresh start

In the two separate sessions in which Ryan Braun met the media in Milwaukee since he was suspended in late July, he fielded many of the same questions about when, why and how he was connected to Biogenesis, as well as many of the same queries about the reaction he expects to receive from fans here and on the road.

The answers to all of those questions were uniform, if not somewhat evasive, but it was interesting that Braun had to remind everyone that he's played under this type of cloud before.

And he did it well.

After the overturned suspension in the winter of 2011 and the now-infamous spring training rant, Braun arguably put up a better season than his MVP-winning campaign the year before.

Now, some will point to last year's underwhelming performance through 61 games before his suspension – without question the worst output of his seven-year career – as a "real" predictor for how 2014 will go for Braun.

I'm not sure about that. He was placed on the disabled list in early June with a thumb injury, and wasn't activated until a month later. This came after he suffered a neck injury right at the start of the season that forced him to miss games.

It's fair to wonder if Braun's body will hold up, or why it's breaking down in his late 20s. He's had his share of nagging injuries throughout his career, and his statement explaining why he used performance enhancing drugs said he did so to overcome one late in 2011.

But he said he used his "extended offseason" to get healthy, and so far so good in spring training.

"I think I'll be better than I've ever been," he said about his return to the field in 2014. "I'm very confident in that."

If his early production in Arizona is true indication of his health, and his ability, it's fair for Brewers fans to expect numbers similar to 2012. Braun led the league in runs, home runs, OPS and total bases that year while recording the second highest hit total of his career (191), the second most RBI (112), stolen bases (30) while also walking the most times in his career (63).

As for the suspension, and being caught in a lie, Braun's message has been pretty consistent. And he aims for his play to be consistent in 2014, too.

"I deeply regret it. I wish I can change it," he said. "I recognize I don't have that opportunity to do that so all I can do is focus on the present, focus on the future, look forward to this year and go out there and do the things that I've done in the past and hopefully be one of the best players in the game and show them that I learned from my mistake, that I've grown from it, that I've learned from it and that hopefully I've become a better person because of it."

He got married this offseason, and says that "I don't think I've ever been happier. I don't think I've ever enjoyed life more. I don't think I've ever been in a better place. So from that perspective, it's been beautiful."

I can't begin to tell you how important that is to a professional athlete.

These guys are real people with real people issues – the illnesses and deaths of family and friends, the birth of children, personal and professional squabbles that can put you in a bad mood. The difference is their job is for all of us to see and judge. And, depending on their status on the team, any carryover can cost them not only their job, but their career.

The fact that Braun feels this good mentally, and seems to be healthy physically, are good predictors for a return to his norm on the field.

That's not to say there won't be challenges, specifically on defense. Sort of lost in all of the news around his extended break was the fact the team asked him to change positions.

"They just asked if I would be open to it and I said absolutely," Braun said of his move to right field. "I told them I'd play anywhere other than third base because third base and I didn't go very well together. I don't expect it to be easy. In left field you get used to the ball coming off the bat a certain way, a certain direction, right-handers and left-handers, the ball slices a specific direction and in right field it'll be completely opposite. In Arizona I'll have plenty of time to get my work in and it's something I look forward to. I expect it to be challenging for sure."

Braun believes tracking fly balls in Miller Park will be easier in right with fewer shadows and lighting issues through the glass panes around the ballpark, but sometimes a player can have troubles at the plate, or in the field, crossover to other parts of their game.

Even if he misplays some fly balls or line drives, I doubt that will be the case with Braun – but it bears watching. Even the most confident of players can press if things go poorly.

But as he's often said, not much about the rest of "this" – the fans booing and the media questioning – is new for him. He performed once before with that pressure. You have to expect that he will again.

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Ryan Braun, cleat company 3N2 agree

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has agreed to his first endorsement deal since he was suspended for 65 games last season for violating Major League Baseball's anti-drug agreement.

Upstart baseball cleat manufacturer 3N2 said it will pay Braun a fraction of the price he was getting from Nike, which terminated his deal on Aug. 2, although specific terms were not disclosed.

3N2 president Marty Graham told ESPN.com that the company contacted Braun's representatives that day to talk about a possible deal. Things got more serious when Braun tried on the shoes, and he's been wearing them throughout spring training.

"We believe in Ryan," Graham said. "We've all made mistakes, and we're all human beings. Our country is about second chances."

Sports-market tracking firm SportsOneSource says that 3N2 has 0.2 percent market share of the roughly $220 million U.S. baseball cleat market behind the likes of industry leaders Nike, Under Armour, Mizuno, adidas and New Balance. Graham says that because smaller, independent distributors aren't as well tracked, the company believes it has closer to a 2 percent share.

As of December, Braun -- who lost $3.3 million in salary as a result of the suspension -- was known by 25 percent of U.S. consumers, according to the Davie Brown Index. The DBI data reflects that Braun's appeal among consumers is in line with those of Donald Trump and Dennis Rodman, and his endorsement value currently ranks with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

"With this being Ryan's first announced endorsement since all of the negative publicity hit, it better be airtight and really authentic," said Matt Delzell, managing director of celebrity talent The Marketing Arm, which owns the DBI.

Graham doesn't think there's any risk for his company in backing Braun.

"We're very honest," Graham said. "We're not Nike or Under Armour, who do cleats and products across a variety of categories. This is who we are. Once Ryan has the year we think he is going to have, much of the past will be water under the bridge."

3N2 isn't the only company that will give Braun new life in 2014. Nike's termination opened up the chance to get not only a new shoe brand but also a new batting glove. An official with Franklin says Braun will get paid to wear the company's "Natural II" line this season.

"He is one of the best players in the game and definitely will be out to prove himself this year," said Adam Franklin, the company's director of e-commerce.
In September, in the midst of his suspension, Braun's name was taken off a restaurant in Milwaukee that bore his name.

Braun was suspended 50 games for being a first-time offender in the drug program and 15 more games for conduct detrimental to the investigation into his role with the Biogenesis clinic scandal.

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Ryan Braun: 'I'll just let my work speak for itself, as every artist should'

With Alex Rodriguez suspended for the season, I'm not sure there is a more hated active player right now than Ryan Braun. He served a 65-game suspension for his ties to Biogenesis last year, but not before beating a failed performance-enhancing drug test in an appeal during the 2011-12 offseason and dragging several people through the mud along the way.

The boos and nasty chants have already started in spring training, but Braun told Bob Nightengale of USA Today they don't bother him:

"Dude, say what you want about me, but I am strong,'' Braun says in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY Sports. "Mentally, and emotionally, I am strong.

"This doesn't bother me. People may have something new to yell now, but it's really no different than anything I've gone though. I've never gone to Chicago and had them cheer for me. I've never gone to St. Louis and had them say, "I hope you do great.' Nobody's fans have ever cheered for the opposing team's best player.

"I'm sure it will be a bit adventuresome at times this year, but if anything, it's probably better now. Normally, you go to Philly and Chicago, and they're talking about your mom, your sister, your girlfriend, whatever. So, now, it will be just about me.''

Braun, 30, is 7 for 11 with two doubles, two homers, three walks and one strikeout in six spring training games so far. He heard "M-V-P-E-D" chants earlier this spring according to Nightengale -- I applaud the creativity -- and is regularly heckled not just while at the plate, but while in the field and the on-deck circle as well.

Still, Braun is not concerned about what he hears from the fans because he can't control it. He is focused on getting back to being one of the best players in the world.

"I'm one of the league leaders in confidence,'' says Braun, who is hitting .636 this spring with two homers. "If I perform like I've always done, I'll be one of the best players in this game. I don't need any added motivation of drama at work.

"I'll just let my work speak for itself, as every artist should.''

An artist, huh? No, I would not say confidence is a problem for Braun at this point.

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Ryan Braun hits another homer

Phoenix — Maybe Ryan Braun isn’t into spring training numbers. But this hot start does mean something.

“I think it’s important,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’re not surprised. He can hit. He’s just one of those gifted guys that can sit out a long time. He doesn’t need a lot of at-bats at spring training. He can hit.”

Braun’s sizzling spring continued Wednesday in Milwaukee’s 7-2 win over the Oakland Athletics.

With a single and a home run, he is now 6 for 7 in Cactus League play with two homers.

Not many players can shake off the rust this fast, Roenicke said. Thinking back, the manager mentioned Garret Anderson as one such player. Whatever it is, he’ll take it. Milwaukee’s embattled slugger is in a groove.

“I don’t know if it’s just hand-eye coordination,” Roenicke said. “I don’t know if it’s confidence. It’s probably a combination. But they’re not like everybody else. They don’t struggle so much.”

Milwaukee broke ahead with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

Mitch Haniger (2 for 2) and Martin Maldonado (double) had two RBI apiece.

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Ryan Braun adjusting to right field

The Milwaukee Brewers are counting on Ryan Braun for a lot as he returns to the team from his PED suspension in 2013. They need him to anchor the lineup with his usual MVP level numbers while navigating the problems with his public perception so that he can return to being their face of the franchise.
That’s a lot to ask, and it might be too much to ask of Braun in one season, but there is another thing that he has to deal with this season: a switch from left field to right field.

As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com notes, Braun has his work cut out for him this spring, and he knows it:

Of greater importance to the Brewers, he’s also making positive strides at his new position. Braun is moving from left field to right field this season to make room for Khris Davis, who hit .288 during the 65 games that Braun sat out in 2013 after being suspended in MLB’s Biogenesis investigation.

‘I’m trying to squeeze a whole semester’s worth of work into one month,’ Braun said.”

This is not the first position switch in Braun’s career. He was an abomination as a big league third baseman in his rookie season, which prompted the move to the outfield in the first place. Braun adjusted well and became a solid left fielder, something that should show that he can make this switch to right field comfortably.


Ryan Braun booed, Brewers win

PHOENIX — Ryan Braun ignored loud boos in his home spring debut, producing a single and a walk as a Milwaukee Brewers split squad beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 Saturday.

Braun’s first at-bat at Maryvale Baseball Park was met with a vocal and extended chorus of boos, especially from the third-base side loaded with a large contingent of Dodgers fans.

Braun walked and scored on a single by Carlos Gomez. In the third, Brewers fans on the first-base side tried to drown out the boos with a louder round of cheers before his infield single.

The former NL MVP was suspended for the final 65 games of the season last year for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal. Braun homered Thursday in his first at-bat of exhibition play at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, home of the Oakland A’s.

“He’s dealt with (the boos) before. It’s not new,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “Today was nothing new.”

Yasiel Puig knocked in a run with a deep sacrifice fly to right-center field in the second. The Dodgers went without a hit until Dee Gordon led off the fifth with a bunt single.

Milwaukee starter Kyle Lohse threw two perfect innings.

“He locates all his pitches so well and he’s usually down in the zone,” Roenicke said. “He understands when you need to go after someone and when you should try to make them chase.”

Los Angeles starter Dan Haren allowed a run and three hits over two innings in his Dodgers debut.

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Ryan Braun makes statement with HR in first spring at-bat

MILWAUKEE - Ryan Braun sent a statement to critics by homering in his first at-bat of spring training Thursday.

Braun hit a two-run homer off Oakland A's starter Tommy Milone in the first inning, helping propel the Brewers to an 11-3 win in their Cactus Leagu opener.

Braun received some boos in his second at-bat. Juan Francisco homered twice for the Brewers.

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Ryan Braun should play in opener

Phoenix – Finally, Cactus League play is upon us.

Three games kick off the slate in the Phoenix area today, with the Milwaukee Brewers opening up tomorrow afternoon against the Oakland A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

"It's quick this year, so it's not like in the past where you have eight full days with your squad and you're looking to get it going," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're trying to make sure that we're getting everything in before we start these games."

Roenicke has his lineups mapped out for each of the Brewers' two games Thursday and Friday, but will already have to do some shuffling around on Saturday with split-squad games in Maryvale against the Los Angeles Dodgers and at the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"We have some guys on the minor-league side we're going to borrow," he said.

Roenicke did say he expects Ryan Braun to play tomorrow, "unless he tells me he's not ready," and said Matt Garza will make his first start for the Brewers on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

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Ryan Braun will face on-field challenges, too

Phoenix — Ryan Braun is going to have his hands full this season.

The fallout from his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal last year will likely be unrelenting. Throw in a move from left to right field, and Braun is going to be challenged on the baseball field like never before.

"I haven't really been out there a whole lot," said Braun when asked about the switch. "I guess everything that I'm accustomed to in left field will be opposite in right field. So, I don't anticipate it necessarily being easy, but it's just, most importantly, getting used to reading the ball off the bat."

The emergence of Braun's replacement, Khris Davis, down the stretch last season helped set Braun's move in motion.

With the Brewers eager to give Davis more playing time in 2014, and Davis limited to playing left field because of his throwing arm, talk of moving Braun to right began early in the off-season. It became a reality in December when Milwaukee traded Norichika Aoki to Kansas City, with Braun communicating his willingness to make such a shift beforehand.

Manager Ron Roenicke revealed last week that thoughts of moving Braun to right actually surfaced in his first year as Brewers manager in 2011. It didn't happen, though, and Braun went on to win the National League Most Valuable Player in left field while Corey Hart remained in right.

"That's never an easy decision," Roenicke said. "Usually, when you see that good a defensive outfielder and he can throw, you think of him as a rightfielder. I kept asking, 'Are more balls in baseball hit to left field or right field?' Because that's where you want your best fielder, right?

"From what I gathered, it was pretty consistent to both fields, so I didn't think there was a need to move him at that time."

Position switches aren't foreign to Braun, who was a shortstop in college and played third base through his first major-league season with the Brewers in 2007 before being switched to left. Braun improved to the point where he was a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2011 and '12, but rated out as slightly above average according to the metrics over the course of his six seasons there.

Scouting reports and video helped him make that initial transition.

"I felt in left field the thing that helped me most was taking balls live during batting practice, really getting used to the way the ball comes off the bat (from) right-handed hitters, left-handed hitters," Braun said.

"I'm starting to figure out how our pitchers approach hitters, paying attention to scouting reports and having an idea of where I'm going to play when positioning myself in right field."

Braun's arm isn't the cannon possessed by prototype major-league rightfielders, but he can make up for that with great accuracy. His athleticism also should be plenty good for the position.

"Ryan has the ability to play center field — he's an athlete," said Brewers Gold Glove centerfielder Carlos Gomez. "He used to be an infielder. I don't think he's going to feel (the move) at all."

What's likely to cause Braun the most issues early on are the nuances of the position —getting reads off the bat, taking precise routes to the ball and dealing with caroms off the wall. Right-center field in Miller Park can be especially tricky due to the large cutout just to the left of a large patio area.

In order to better deal with all that, Braun might play deeper to start, which will allow him to get comfortable reading the ball off the bat and cover less ground going back on balls. Aoki, by comparison, played a deep right in each of his two seasons with the Brewers.

"It won't be that easy a transition, even though he's a very good leftfielder," said Roenicke, who himself played all three outfield positions during his big-league career.

"It's different when the ball turns the other way, and for so many years it always goes to the line. Now it goes the other way. But I think he'll do fine. You can't hit fungoes right-handed that way and hook it. So you have to play games. There's going to be some plays that he turns the wrong way. But he's a good enough athlete.

"I'm hoping with time that he'll be really good out there."

With full-squad workouts having just begun, Braun will have roughly six weeks as well as a month's worth of games to get himself acclimated. In past springs, Braun, like most veterans, played sparingly early before ramping things up toward the end of camp.

That could change this year, however.

"We haven't really discussed it too much yet, so I don't really know what the plan is," Braun said. "Most importantly, it's about getting reps, whether that's in batting practice or in games, possibly going and playing in minor-league games where I can be an all-time defender, which would be new for me.

"The more reps I can get in right field over the next six weeks, the more beneficial it will be to me as the season starts."

Because of an early-season neck strain, a right thumb contusion, a four-game leave for a family medical issue and then his 65-game suspension, Braun's offensive numbers were his lowest for his career — a .298 average, nine home runs, 38 RBI and a .498 slugging percentage.

Braun has been utilizing padding on the handles of his bats and in his batting gloves to try to prevent a repeat of the thumb issue, which led to a three-week stint on the disabled list.

If he's able to stay healthy, Braun will once again hit third in a lineup that, when healthy, will contain plenty of pop from top to bottom.

Just being back on a baseball field — challenges or not — has Braun in a good frame of mind.

"It's great. It's exciting," he said. "Obviously, I've had a lot of downtime with my extended off-season. I'm certainly excited to be back, excited to be in Arizona, excited to meet my new teammates, looking forward to the challenge of learning a new position.

"I'm just excited to be back to playing baseball."


Ryan Braun's focus remains on moving forward

Phoenix -- Ryan Braun remained in "look forward, not back" mode Thursday as he rejoined his Brewers teammates in the clubhouse for the first time since serving a season-ending, 65-game suspension for PED use.

"I'm excited to be back, excited to be in Arizona, excited to meet my new teammates, looking foward to the challenge of learning a new position, just excited to be back playing baseball," Braun told reporters after checking in to Maryvale Baseball Park.

As he did in two off-season media opportunities, including the "Brewers On Deck" fan festival, Braun deflected all questions about the Biogenesis investigation, exactly what he did and why.

"I've addressed that a couple times already in multiple press conferences, and I got pretty specific with exactly what happened and when it happened," he said. "I took responsibility for the mistake that I made and for me my focus is on this year and moving forward and learning a new position and getting ready for the season."

It was the first time that a sizable number of members from the national media had a chance to ask Braun questions and many were asked about his PED use. But he made it clear that he has said all he is going to say about that sordid chapter of his life and he is ready to move on.

"The best answer I can give you is I made a mistake," he said. "I've said multiple times that I wish I had the ability to go back and change things, do things differently. Unfortunately, I don't have that opportunity. I embrace the challenge that lies ahead. I know it won't be easy but I intend to do everything in my power to continue to be the best person and player I can be.

"I made a mistake. I deserved to be suspended. I took full responsibility for my actions and as I've said many, many times, all I can do is look forward and continue to move forward."

Asked if he felt any pressure to show he can be what he was in the past -- both clean and dirty -- one of the best players in the game, Braun said, "I think I always put a lot of pressure on myself. My expectation is always to be one of the best players in baseball. I think over the first seven or eight years of my career, I've been able to do that.

"I dealt with a similar situation in 2012 and had my best year. So, that's certainly my goal and intention this year in coming back and focusing on the season."

As for acceptance in the clubhouse, Braun said, "Everybody has been extremely supportive and I appreciate that. Certainly, when everything first occurred there was some confusion because I wasn't allowed to say anything. It was an ongoing and active investigation, so because of that I couldn't really say anything. Aside from that, my relationship with everybody has been great and I don't anticipate any change moving forward."

Braun's troubles began when he failed an MLB drug test in October 2011 at the outset of the playoffs. He tested positive for synthetic testosterone but appealed the verdict and won on what turned into a chain-of-custody case.

Asked if that was the only time he took a banned substance, Braun said, "I've already addressed that multiple times. I think I was very specific in my statement (in August of last year). I've answered all of these questions at multiple press conferences. I appreciate the interest. I completely understand and respect that you guys have a job to do but for me it's counterproductive to continue to look back. All I can do is continue to look forward, move forward, continue to head in the right direction, focus on the season and get myself prepared to be the best player I can be."

Braun got the rough treatment from fans on the road last year and realizes it will be worse in 2014 after finally admitting to PED use and taking his suspension.
"I've dealt with it the last couple of years so I think I have some idea what to expect," he said. "But I never really waste my time focusing on things that are out of my control. All I can do is deal with things as they come, deal with things to the best of my ability and that's what I intend to do."

As for the time when he was suspended, Braun said, "It was challenging. It was difficult to be away from the game. It was disappointing for me to be away from my teammates and the sport I enjoy playing so much.

"There was no easy part. None of it was easy. There's no blueprint that this is how you deal with these things or handle the situation. Basically, I made a mistake, I made a big mistake. All I can try to do from it is learn, grow, become a better person and move forward."

The tone of the media session was much different from the formal, on-field session at Maryvale two springs ago when Braun came out verbally firing, attacking the MLB drug program, the urine specimen collector and maintaining his innocence. There has been much water under the bridge since then, mostly turbulent, and he regrets telling more lies that day.

"Certainly, I wish I hadn't done the press conference," he said. "I wish that I had known then what I know now. If I had, certainly I wouldn't have done it at all. It's a different tone this day than it was that day. Like I said, I wish I could go back and not do the press conference at all."

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Ryan Braun Eager to 'Move Forward' in 2014

(MILWAUKEE) --  As the 2014 MLB season inches closer, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is excited and ready for a new chapter in his career.

Speaking at an offseason team event this weekend, Braun says he is constantly trying to make amends with fans and teammates following his 65-game suspension last year for violating Major League Baseball's anti-drug agreement.

"I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can't. All I can do is move forward and make the best of the opportunities presented to me," Braun said.

The 2011 National League MVP made his first public appearance Sunday since admitting last year that he took performance-enhancing drugs; he accepted his suspension in late July.

In 61 games last season, Braun hit .298 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs.

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Ryan Braun discusses return to Milwaukee Brewers

Referring to his suspension for using performance enhancing drugs as an “extended off-season,” Ryan Braun told reporters recently at a Fan Fest event that he is excited to be back with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2014 season.

Discussing what it has been like to speak with fans again in anticipation of his return, Braun said the following:

I made a mistake; I made a big mistake. I don’t expect everybody to be supportive or everybody to be understanding or everybody to understand where I was coming from. I certainly didn’t anticipate the amount of support I received.”

In a bizarre twist, Braun said that he is looking forward to the pressure of getting heckled by opposing fans.

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Ryan Braun apologetic, upbeat at 'On Deck'

In the midst of his first large-scale public appearance in Milwaukee since his 65-game suspension last season, Ryan Braun remained upbeat and apologetic in addressing the media prior to 'Brewers On Deck' at the Wisconsin Center on Sunday morning.

"I’m excited to be back," said Braun, dressed in a navy Brewers jersey and jeans.

"It’s always nice to be back. I think since my extended off-season began I’ve been back a few times, and everybody’s been extremely supportive. It’s great to be back. The weather’s a little bit colder than what I’m typically used to this time of the year, but aside from that it’s good to be back.

"Nice to see everybody and it’ll be nice to interact with the fans."

Like all Brewers players, Braun's obligations at the annual 'On Deck' event run the gamut from media availability to radio spots to autograph signings and everything in between. Braun had yet to hit the event floor at the Wisconsin Center when he met with the media late Sunday morning, but said to that point his experiences with Brewers fans had been overwhelmingly positive.

"I’ve actually had a lot of interaction with the fans and everybody’s been great," he said. "Everybody’s been incredibly supportive. I know last time I was here with you guys in November you asked about what I expected or anticipated. I don’t really expect or anticipate anything, so we’ll see how it goes."

When asked what kind of reception he expects away from Miller Park moving forward, Braun hinted that the boos and catcalls will serve as a source of motivation for him.

"I really don’t think about stuff like that very much," he said. "I try not to focus on the things that are out of my control. With that being said I’ve already experienced this already in the past a couple times. Dealt with it in 2012, dealt with it for the majority of 2013, so I think I have an idea of what I’m getting myself into.

"As a competitor, in a really odd way I enjoy it. I think it’s fun. I think the more hostile an environment is the more enjoyable it is. I just enjoy that pressure. In a really unique way, I actually enjoy and look forward to it."

Among the mea culpas Braun has attempted since the Biogenesis scandal and his subsequent suspension was his idea to call Brewers ticket holders. He provided a few more details about those calls when asked about them today, saying he called all Miller Park suiteholders as well as "quite a few" season ticket holders.

"It was great. I think it was a really unique experience," he said. "There were a lot of people who really didn’t believe it was me initially. Actually I think everybody was really supportive, which was cool. It was something I had no idea what to expect or anticipate, but I enjoyed it. It was fun."

Braun acknowledged he had a "challenging conversation" with one fan.

"It wasn't surprising in any way," he said. "I made a mistake, I made a big mistake. I don't expect everybody to be supportive or everybody to be understanding or everybody to understand where I was coming from. Certainly I didn't anticipate the amount of support I received."

Braun is also aware it will be a process for him as far as fans accepting him following his suspension.

“I don’t ever know if I could apologize enough for what’s occurred, you know? I just continue to move forward and obviously I’ll be apologetic. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can’t. All I can do is move forward and make the best of the opportunities presented to me.”

Braun, who married longtime girlfriend Larisa Fraser not long ago, said the off-season was a positive one for him overall.

"Yeah, it's been unique. Overall, it's been extremely enjoyable," he said. "I don't think I've ever been happier, I don't think I've ever enjoyed life more, I don't think I've ever been in a better place. From that perspective it's been beautiful. The wedding was amazing.

"I'm excited and looking forward to the next year while trying to learn from everything I went through this year."

If Braun is unsure whether he'll be able to put up numbers without the 'extra edge' he had previously, as one questioner put it, he certainly isn't letting on.
"I think I’ll be better than I’ve ever been," he said. "Very confident in that.”

Braun would not address any further questions regarding details about his PED usage, continuing the approach he used in his last public appearance just prior to Thanksgiving at a Brewers charity event.

"Again, I appreciate there is still interest in this stuff, but I addressed everything in November when I was here for the charity event, and I think I addressed it pretty specifically in the statement that we gave (in August," he said.

"I think that addressed it pretty specifically as far as exactly what it was and when it occurred.”

Braun also wouldn't discuss the Alex Rodriguez situation, saying he hadn't been paying close attention to it.

As far as baseball, Braun said his balky right thumb is healed and he looked forward to his upcoming move to right field.

"They just asked if I would be open to it, and I said absolutely," Braun said. "I told them I'd play anywhere other than third base because third base and I didn't go very well together. I don't expect it to be easy. In left field you get used to the ball coming off the bat a certain way and a certain direction.

"In Arizona I'll have plenty of time to get my work in. It's something I look forward to, but I expect it to be challenging."

Braun was also in favor of the addition of free-agent starter Matt Garza, whose deal with the Brewers is still apparently in the works.

"I think the Garza thing is extremely exciting," he said. "I’m excited about it. Hopefully it’s something that ends up working out for us [because] I think he could be a difference-maker. Facing him over the last few years, I think he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. One of the toughest at-bats. Great stuff. Very competitive -- a fiery competitor, which is something I think could benefit the whole pitching staff and our whole team.

"Nori getting traded, I think year and year out there’s so much change, so much turnover in the roster. Khris Davis, I think, is going to be a really good player. The organization really believes in him and hopefully it will be a seamless transition there.

"Mark Reynolds is a guy I’ve known for a long time. We played together in the Fall League, and I’ve known him, actually, since college. So I’m excited to have him on the team and I think he’s going to be big for us, especially in our ballpark."

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Ryan Braun to attend 'Brewers On Deck' fanfest

Ryan Braun will have his first big intermingling with Brewers fans since his suspension at the annual "Brewers On Deck" fan event on Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Wisconsin Center.

Braun will be among 28 players the club lists to attend along with manager Ron Roenicke, coaches, front office personnel, broadcasters -- including Bob Uecker -- and alumni, including Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers and Gorman Thomas.

Since his 65-game suspension at the end of last season for violations of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Braun's only public appearance was in the team's Thanksgiving food drive.

This year there is free admission to the event, set to run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, and no tickets are required.

Food donations will be accepted through the Hunger Task Force at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue and 4th Street and Wells Street.

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Suit against Ryan Braun intact

A lawsuit against Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun survived largely intact Wednesday when a Wisconsin judge said a former Braun associate may proceed with accusations of defamation, infliction of emotional distress and fraud.

Braun and his agents, Creative Artists Agency, had moved to dismiss the lawsuit filed in July by longtime Braun friend Ralph Sasson, 29, a law student.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul R. Van Grunsven dismissed seven of the 12 counts but let stand Sasson's charges relating to defamation and libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress and fraudulent misrepresentation. Braun, a former National League MVP, served a 65-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy last season after he was connected to Biogenesis clinic founder Tony Bosch.

Sasson said he was contacted by Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, in November 2011 after Braun was notified that he had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Part of his assignment, he said, was to conduct research on the man who collected Braun's urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr., to whom Braun later apologized.

Sasson accused Braun of violating a confidentiality agreement they signed after Sasson assisted with Braun's successful appeal of a positive steroid test in 2011. Sasson said Braun defamed him to mutual acquaintances, thus violating the agreement and causing emotional distress.

Reached Thursday, Sasson, who is representing himself, said he does not intend to settle the case. In a statement, he said, "While I am pleased with yesterday's outcome, it is merely a first step in the long and arduous process of holding Ryan Braun, Nez Balelo and Creative Artists Agency accountable for their fraudulent actions and flagrant misconduct. As such, my primary goal at this juncture is to avoid any procedural missteps and take this matter to trial."

A spokesman for Braun did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

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Why Ryan Braun Is the Best Right Fielder in Baseball

COMMENTARY | The Milwaukee Brewers' offseason has been the dullest form of dull, but at least Ryan Braun has been out of the spotlight.

Milwaukee is the only team in Major League Baseball that has yet to sign a free agent to a big league deal, and members of their fanbase are seriously debating amongst each other about who should start at first base between Juan Francisco, Sean Halton and Hunter Morris.

In case you didn't notice, first base remains an issue in Milwaukee.

However, the Brewers did execute a couple of trades, one of which led directly to the aforementioned Braun making the switch to right field. While we could also make the argument that Braun is the best left fielder in baseball, we can do the same for Braun in right -- here are five reasons why:

He's a former MVP
Among current MLB players that play right field, Ryan Braun is one of just three to win an MVP Award. The others are Ichiro, who can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and Josh Hamilton, who took a big step back in performance last season and plans to move back to left field in 2014.

Braun is still elite without PEDs
This facet remains a bit blurry, but what we know for sure is that Braun used performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 season to help battle injury. There's no telling if Braun used PEDs again in 2012 and beyond, or at any point prior to 2011. But the 30-year-old still went on to have an MVP-caliber season in 2012 sans PEDs -- allegedly.

One would think Braun would be more careful following his positive test toward the end of the 2011 season, but who knows? We just know that Braun still managed to perform at a high level.

His all-around game
Remember when Braun played third base during his rookie season? Well, maybe you blocked that from memory, because it wasn't pretty. But ever since Braun moved to the outfield, his defense has become a strength rather than a liability.

We're not saying that Braun's defense is Gold Glove material, but he has a serviceable glove to go along with plus speed and the ability to hit for average and power, giving him a skill set that not many can match in baseball.

The clutch gene
Again, we can't be sure how much PEDs have boosted Braun's performance over the years, but one thing is for sure -- he isn't fazed by the spotlight. Braun comes through when it matters most.

He's the guy who put the Brewers in the playoffs back in 2008 with a 2-run home run on the final day of the regular season. He also wrapped up the NL Central in 2011 with another long ball. Those are just a few examples of Braun's ability to swing a game with one swing of the bat.

On top of being a great player, Braun also has the clutch gene, something that can't be undersold.

The competition
When it comes down to it, there isn't anyone besides Braun that can make a stronger case for being the best right fielder in baseball.

There is up-and-coming talent like Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Wil Myers, and mainstays like Hamilton, Carlos Beltran and Jay Bruce. Those first three names may soon be battling it out for the supreme right fielder in the game. But, for now, the crown belongs to Braun, who is in his prime and currently the best right fielder in baseball.

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Law student who sued Ryan Braun tries to save case in court

Ryan Braun's  former childhood and college friend, who is now suing the Milwaukee Brewers slugger for defamation, appeared in a Milwaukee courtroom Friday to argue why his lawsuit shouldn't be dismissed.

Ralph Sasson, a law student, appeared pro se -- acting as his own attorney -- against attorneys for Braun and and Creative Arts Agency, which represented Braun in business and contract deals,  who have asked that Circuit Judge Paul Van Grunsven dismiss Sasson's complaint.

The aspiring lawyer dressed and sounded the part, but it remains to be seen if his the substance of his efforts work hold up to more experienced attack.

"Mr. Sasson has pleaded himself out of court," said Stephen Kravit, attorney for CCA. He called Sasson's complaint confusing, and questioned how it could possibly find the agency liable for something Sasson concedes its employee had no authority to do -- pay Sasson for work he did on Braun's behalf while he was under investigation for using performance enhancing drugs, then sign a release.

Sasson, dressed in a dark suit and a yellow tie, argued that Onesimo Balelo acted in the "course and scope" of his employment, and that CAA should be liable under a theory of "respondeat superior."

"He's just plain wrong," Kravit said.

Van Grunsven questioned Sasson why a key document -- the signed release - suggests he and Balelo signed it together before a notary in June, when it was actually signed in two different states before different notaries. Sasson tried to explain how documents were signed and sent between Milwaukee and California.

Sasson claims that after he and Balelo signed a release that neither side would speak poorly of the other, Sasson destroyed documents potentially damaging to Braun, but Braun then spoke ill of him to mutual friends and acquaintances.

Kravit asked that if Van Grunsven does not dismiss the complaint, he at least make Sasson re-plead his case with more particularity. "We need to plead to something, and this is a big mess," Kravit said.

Braun's California attorney, Jeremiah Reynolds, said Sasson engaged in the unlicensed practice of law in drawing up the settlement agreement and release.  "His attempt to enforce the non-disparagement clause is unenforceable," Reynolds said.

Reynolds also said Sasson's claims that Braun's supposedly defamatory statements - that Sasson had been rude to staff at Miller Park, and was crazy -- were not actionable and did not fit into the exceptions Sasson claims.

Sasson called Reynolds' unlicensed practice argument "a shining example of frivolousness,"  and explained why what he did would not run afoul of Wisconsin's unlicensed legal practice law.

Toward the end of the hearing, Van Grunsven asked Sasson to explain "in three sentences or less," his additional claim of action under "quantum meruit," a theory of recovery for services under an implied contract.

Sasson said he added the claim because if the contract is found not to be valid, he has no other recourse to seek compensation for destroying documents worth more than $1 million.

Sasson "humbly and respectfully" asked for yet another chance to amend his complaint, but Van Grunsen said the record on the motions to dismiss was closed, and that he would issue a decision next month.

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Ryan Braun-Larisa Fraser wedding photos

The U.K.'s Daily Mail has 'em! Wedding photos of Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and Larisa Fraser — obviously shot through a telephoto lens at great length by a paparazzi spy. But they're online for your viewing pleasure.

Braun and Fraser got married in Malibu, Calif. on Saturday, which surely is a sign that things have turned around for Braun, who has finished his 65-game suspension related to the Biogenesis investigation.

Fraser actually had a sweet post on her blog about gettin' hitched:


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Brewers' Ryan Braun to shift to right field

Earlier Thursday, the Brewers dealt outfielder Norichika Aoki to the Royals, and as a result they'll shift slugger Ryan Braun from left field to Aoki's former primary position of right field. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that manager Ron Roenicke will soon finalize the move with Braun.

Braun was a third baseman coming up through the minors and during his rookie season, so he has some arm strength. He was shifted to left field prior to the 2008 season, and his advanced numbers at the position show a general trend of improvement over the years.

Braun, 30, is coming off a 2013 season in which he batted .298/.372/.498 with nine home runs in 253 at-bats. Braun missed the final 65 games of the season because of a Biogenesis-related suspension. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 146. Braun led the NL in homers in 2012 and was named NL MVP in 2011.

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Ryan Braun had dinner with sample-collector Dino Laurenzi, they have “made amends”

As noted earlier, Ryan Braun participated in a charity food drive today and afterward spoke to the media. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a transcript of his comments here.

If you’re looking for frank talk and Braun falling on his sword you’re not going to get it. There’s a lot of “let’s just look to the future and learn from our mistakes” stuff that never satisfies anyone. But he did mention one thing of note:

Have you apologized to Dino Laurenzi, Jr., or made any payments to him?

“I have not made any payments to him. I’ve had some really productive and positive conversations with him. The Laurenzi family was actually gracious and kind enough to have my fiancée Larisa and I over to their house for dinner last night, and we had some really good conversation. We’ve made amends and I think we’re both excited to be able to move forward and put this behind us.”

The subject of Laurenzi –  the man who collected the urine sample from Braun in 2011 and around whose handling of the sample Braun based his ultimately successful appeal — has long been one around which Braun-haters have rallied. It started when Braun made mention of Laurenzi — though not by name — at his spring 2012 press conference talking about the appeal of his drug suspension. Since then, people have accused Braun of ruining Laurenzi’s life, getting him fired, slandering him and number of other things which have served to destroy or harm the guy.

And, to be clear: Braun was wrong to say anything public about Laurenzi at all. But the characterization of what Braun did to or even said about Laurenzi has been so far over the top that it has become laughable. People have equated Braun to Lance Armstrong, who actually sued people and had them fired for opposing his lies. They’ve suggested that Braun is legally liable to Laurenzi, when there is no rational basis for a defamation case as a result of what he said. They’ve said that Braun should pay the guy reparations of some non-specific sort. Penance for a man against whom Braun has sinned.  It’s all been way too much.

I think people did this because in Laurenzi they had a victim of sorts. Or thought they did. An actual person they could use to cast PED users’ transgressions in concrete and horrible terms. This was irresistible given how hard it is to argue about the often gray area ethics and morals of PED-use in sports and how hard it is to keep consistent when slamming some baseball players for cheating in one way but not slamming others for cheating in other ways.  But a real human victim of an evil-doing steroid user? Who can argue against that?

Well, It seems Laurenzi himself can. If Braun is right, the past is the past. If Laurenzi’s silence for the past couple of years is any indication, the whole situation, however unpleasant it may have been, was not the stuff of outrage and legal action. A jerk lied about him publicly, but his life went on. And now he has found it within himself to break bread with the guy and have dinner.

Maybe that doesn’t satisfy everyone. Maybe we’ll hear commentary later today suspecting that Braun manipulated Laurenzi into helping Braun with a shameful P.R. offensive. For my part, though, I’m willing to say that this is all over if the people actually involved in it all are saying it.

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Ryan Braun hammered with PED questions while speaking at food drive

Embattled Brewers slugger Ryan Braun spoke Wednesday for the first time publicly since being suspended for the remainder (65 games) of the 2013 season, saying that he is "deeply remorseful" and continually expressing sorrow about the situation.

Braun was in Milwaukee Wednesday to help the Hunger Task Force (via CBS58) collect food for needy families for this holiday season. During this collection, Braun took some time to answer questions about his situation.

He wouldn't, however, answer specific questions about why he "lied about PED use" or other specific accusations. He instead just focused on broadly saying things like, "I regret it all."

Here's the footage of the interview:

A major disclosure in the interview came when Braun said that he and his fiancee had dinner with Dino Lauranzi and his family Tuesday night. One might recall that Lauranzi is the sample collector who Braun initially successfully argued that Lauranzi had improperly handled his sample for drug testing and that's what caused the spike in testosterone levels.

Braun noted the two families have "made amends" and have put the situation behind them.

As for the press conference in spring training when Braun spoke out about his innocence, he did say he wishes he had never done that press conference and regrets having done so.

He does, however, believe things can turn around.

"I think a positive can arise from any situation," Braun said.

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Ryan Braun open to moving to right field

Ryan Braun told manager Ron Roenicke earlier this week that he'd be open to the idea of moving to right field.
The idea behind the switch would be opening left field for Khris Davis, whose arm isn't strong enough to play regularly in right field, but whose bat is critical to the Brewers lineup. At the same time though, it would create a logjam in the outfield, and could lead to lesser playing time or a trade involving incumbent right fielder Norichika Aoki.

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Brewers not looking to trade Ryan Braun

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has it on "good authority" that the Brewers are not looking to trade Ryan Braun right now.
Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog.com passed along word Wednesday that the Brewers would be open to trading Braun (possibly in a deal to the Mets for Ike Davis) and would be willing to cover some of his salary in order to do it, but the scenario doesn't appear to have any legs. The embattled outfielder is still owed $113 million over the next seven seasons.

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Ryan Braun expected to move to RF

The Milwaukee Brewers want to move OF Ryan Braun to right field to protect themselves if OF Khris Davis fails in left field. It's generally easier to find left fielders than right fielders.

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MLB wants documents Alex Rodriguez used to rat out Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli

A public relations firm hired by Alex Rodriguez leaked documents to Yahoo! Sports in February linking Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Biogenesis doping ring, according to documents filed by Major League Baseball in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday.

In its petition for an order compelling Michael S. Sitrick, owner of the Sitrick & Company P.R. firm, to comply with a subpoena in the arbitration between MLB and Rodriguez, baseball contends that Rodriguez obtained documents that “had been maintained by (Biogenesis owner Anthony) Bosch ...for the purpose of preventing MLB from obtaining those records and from uncovering evidence of Rodriguez’s use and possession of prohibited substances.”

The petition went on to say that MLB has a “good faith basis” to believe that Rodriguez or others acting on his behalf provided records to Sitrick & Company implicating Braun, Cervelli and others claiming they had received performance-enhancing substances from Bosch. The public relations firm then provided the information to Yahoo! Sports, the court papers said.

MLB’s filings noted that CBS’ 60 Minutes reported on its website in August that members of Rodriguez’s inner circle had obtained and leaked the Bosch records to Yahoo! Sports.

“It is our intention to work it out,” said Sitrick's attorney, J. Michael Hennigan of McKool Smith Hennigan. “Mr. Sitrick wants to cooperate to the extent that he can.”

The assertions in MLB’s court papers directly contradict claims by a spokesman for Rodriguez, who said last week that the embattled superstar did not attempt to obstruct MLB’s Biogenesis investigation by purchasing evidence.

he Players Association, acting as Rodriguez’s representative, agreed heading into the arbitration that Rodriguez would share any documents and information regarding his attempts to obtain Biogenesis records with MLB, the court papers say. The union, however, has told MLB that it was unable to produce the documents provided to Sitrick. The Supreme Court petition is an attempt to compel Sitrick to appear at Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension with copies of the documents baseball says it believes are relevant to its case against Rodriguez.

“To date, MLB has received neither responsive documents from Sitrick & Co., nor an affidavit from Mr. Sitrick certifying that he and the company has or ever had the documents in question,” according to the petition. “The testimony of Mr. Sitrick is necessary to establish whether Rodriguez or his representatives have or had documents relevant to MLB’s allegations in the arbitration in their possession and when these documents were obtained.”

The Daily News reported in April that Rodriguez had purchased Biogenesis records and other evidence in an attempt to keep them from MLB investigators. A-Rod’s spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, denied then that Rodriguez or a representative purchased evidence.

The News reported earlier this month that Rodriguez’s lawyers acknowledged during the appeal of his 211-game suspension that they had spent $305,000 on evidence.

Berkowitz first denied that report, but later admitted that the evidence had been purchased this month but said it was not an attempt to interfere with baseball’s Biogenesis investigation.

Berkowitz declined comment on Tuesday.

Meanwhile in U.S. District Court for the Southern District, MLB will ask Judge Lorna G. Schofield to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Rodriguez that accuses commissioner Bud Selig of mounting a "witch hunt" against the scandal-stained superstar by Nov. 8, according to a letter one of Rodriguez's lawyers sent to the court on Monday.

MLB attorneys will argue that the Labor Management Relations Act requires that Rodriguez's dispute with baseball should be addressed by an arbitrator as outlined by the sport's collective bargaining agreement, the letter from attorney Jordan Siev said.

Team A-Rod, meanwhile, will argue that under the act, the case belongs in New York state court, where it was originally filed on Oct. 3, before MLB moved it to federal court.

The suit says Selig and other MLB officials engaged in unethical and even criminal behavior against Rodriguez to “gloss over” their past inaction and tacit approval of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

The court papers claim MLB officials conducted a "witch hunt" against Rodriguez to secure Selig's legacy as the "savior" of the national pastime. MLB called the lawsuit a "desperate attempt" to circumvent the appeals procedure outlined in the game’s Basic Agreement.

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SURG restaurant owner opens up about Ryan Braun, Aaron Rodgers

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Suspended slugger Ryan Braun pays visit to Brewers buddies

Ryan Braun dropped by Miller Park on Wednesday just to say hello to teammates he hadn't seen for nearly two months.

The Milwaukee Brewers slugger had not been at the ballpark since July 22, when he accepted a season-ending, 65-game suspension for evidence uncovered in a Major League Baseball investigation that he purchased performance-enhancing drugs from the notorious Biogenesis clinic.

"It was really nice to see him," said manager Ron Roenicke. "All the staff was happy to see him; the players were happy to see him. It was nice he came in."
Braun did not make himself available to the media, leaving before the Brewers held pregame batting practice. Though he's under suspension, Braun is allowed to be at the ballpark before games only. There was no indication he planned to answer questions from reporters before the final homestand ends Sunday night.

Unlike the day he was suspended, when Braun asked to address the team to give them the news, Roenicke said there was no formal clubhouse meeting.

"He just came in to visit," said Roenicke. "He told me awhile ago when we talked that he wanted to come in. He didn't want it to be a distraction. I told him it wouldn't be. So, he came in and I'm really glad he did.

"He looked good. I think all the guys were really happy to see him. He was just in to say hi. He misses the game and he misses the guys, so he wanted to come in and say hi."

Asked if Braun's visit was a one-shot deal, Roenicke said, "Maybe. It just depends. We don't have many games left. So, maybe just that one time."

Asked if he thought Braun would take questions from the media at some point, Roenicke said, "I don't know. I don't know when he's planning to go back.
"For me, he doesn't need to. He's made a statement (that's) enough for me. We need to move on with this. If he decides to, great. That's his decision. But, for me, he doesn't need to. He's already said what happened and what he needs to. That's fine with me and I'm sure it's fine with most of the players."

Right-hander Marco Estrada was surprised to see Braun in the clubhouse.

"I didn't think I'd see him anymore this season," said Estrada. "We talked for a few minutes. I asked how he was doing and he asked me the same. He seemed in good spirits. I'm sure he's dealing with a lot. We didn't talk about that stuff."

Roenicke said he had talked "off and on" over the phone with Braun just to stay in touch.

"It's important for the team to move on with things and for him, also. I know it's been difficult sitting at home and not to be part of this. But he really did not want this to be a distraction to us. So I think it was really good. I think it was great. No way was this a distraction."

Braun wasn't the only visitor to pop in. Corey Hart, who has been out all season after undergoing two knee surgeries, also showed up to catch up with teammates and staff.

Asked if seeing Braun and Hart makes him realize what the Brewers have missed, Roenicke said, "Yes. I really like these guys, too. Not only are they really great players but I really like them. They bring a lot to our team. They bring that atmosphere that when you go out there you know you have these two big horses to help."

Word first got out that Braun was in town earlier in the day when the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin posted photos on its Facebook page of him addressing the staff. Braun was the honorary chairman of the AIDS Walk Wisconsin in Milwaukee last year and met with staffers at ARCW and bought them lunch from Zaffiro's Pizza.

When he was suspended, Braun put out a brief and vague apology, then one month later a longer explanation that left many holes to be filled regarding his saga. As part of his apology process he also made personal phone calls to season-ticket holders, sponsors and suite holders.

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Ryan Braun makes surprise appearance in Milwaukee on Wednesday

Suspended slugger Ryan Braun visited the Milwaukee Brewers for the first time since telling his teammates in July that he accepted a 65-game ban as a result of baseball's investigation into a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

''It was really nice to see him,'' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday. ''He told me a while ago when we talked that he wanted to come in. He didn't want it to be a distraction. I told him it wouldn't be. So, he came in and I'm really glad he did.''

Roenicke said Braun just stopped by to say hello, there was no formal meeting.

''It's important for the team to move on with things and for him, also.'' Roenicke said. ''I know it's been difficult sitting at home and not to be part of this. But he really did not want this to be a distraction to us. So I think it was really good. I think it was great. No way was this a distraction.''

Braun did not talk to the media while he was at Miller Park.

Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October of his 2011 NL MVP season, but his 50-game suspension was overturned when an arbitrator ruled that the urine sample was mishandled.

He then agreed to the longer penalty July 22, becoming the first star to be suspended by Major League Baseball in the doping scandal involving the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic.

Earlier Wednesday, the five-time All-Star visited the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. Photos of his appearance were posted on the group's Facebook page, tipping off media that Braun was in Milwaukee.

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Lawsuit describes Ryan Braun's efforts to fight drug test

A former college classmate sued Ryan Braun, saying the Brewers slugger sought his help in fighting a failed drug test, balked on paying him and then disparaged him when asked why their friendship soured.

Ralph Sasson, a Milwaukee law student, said Braun's agent hired him in November 2011 to do legal research aimed at clearing Braun after the left fielder tested positive for steroid use. The agent later asked him to investigate the man who collected Braun's urine, Dino Laurenzi Jr., and Braun personally asked him to prank call two journalists working on a story about the failed test, according to the lawsuit filed last month in Milwaukee County court.

Braun was the first baseball player to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty in a grievance. He accepted a longer, 65-game suspension last month amid reports of ties to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to major leaguers but did not publicly admit using banned drugs.
Sasson said the initial deal called for him to be paid $2,000 for his research and $5,000 if Braun was exonerated. But Braun and his agent, Onesimo Balelo, balked at paying him the full amount after a baseball arbitrator overturned the left fielder's 50-game suspension in February 2012. Sasson eventually got paid, but he said his relationship with Braun soured and the baseball player lied when asked why.

"Braun has engaged in advancing the proposition that the reason for his falling out with Sasson was because Sasson had been rude to staff at Miller Park; Braun had received word that complaints had been filed due to Sasson's abhorrent behaviour; that Sasson had "acted like an ass"; and that Sasson is crazy," the lawsuit says.

It seeks more than $10,000 for defamation and emotional distress.

"This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on Ryan's recent press attention for taking responsibility for his actions," Braun's attorney, Howard Weitzman, said in an email to The Associated Press during the weekend. "The factual allegations are untrue and the legal claims have absolutely no merit. We believe the lawsuit will be dismissed."

Weitzman had no further comment Monday.

According to his lawsuit, Sasson and Braun had been friends since junior high school and attended the University of Miami together. Sasson said Balelo did not mention Braun's name when he initially hired Sasson, but Sasson believed the player he was working to clear was his friend because there was no reason otherwise for an agent of Balelo's stature to call "a law student with very little practical experience."

Sasson said Braun later confirmed he was the player who failed the drug test.

The law student said he wrote a legal brief on the matter and then, at Balelo's request, ran a background check on Laurenzi. Braun's initial suspension was overturned after the outfielder's supporters showed Laurenzi collected the sample on a Saturday but did not send it to the lab until Monday.

Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

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So how will Brewers fans react to Ryan Braun's return from banishment on March 31, 2014?

ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney lists nine "dates to circle" for the 2014 Major League Baseball season and high on his list is March 31 when the Brewers open their season at Miller Park against the Braves.

"Everybody will be watching and listening to see what the reaction will be to the all-star leftfielder, who will be playing his first game since serving a 65-game suspension this year. Rest assured: It will be mixed, with a lot of Brewers fans cheering him."

You do wonder what the local fan reaction to Braun's return from banishment will be.

Not so much the cheers, which as Olney says will be there. But the level of jeers.

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Aaron Rodgers: No call from Ryan Braun

GREEN BAY – Although Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been calling some of the team’s season ticketholders and apologizing to them for his suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal and his use of performance-enhancing substances, his one-time friend Aaron Rodgers has not received one of those calls.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback said so on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com Tuesday afternoon.

“I haven't gotten one of those calls,” Rodgers said.

Asked if that was disappointing to him, Rodgers replied simply, “No.”

After news of Braun’s 65-game suspension broke, Rodgers was asked about their relationship on the opening day of training camp, July 26.

"I was shocked, I really was, just like many of you were,” Rodgers told a throng of reporters at his locker after the first practice of camp. “I was backing up a friend who looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations, said they weren't true.

"So, it is disappointing, not only for myself as a friend, but for obviously Wisconsin sports fans, Brewer fans, Major League Baseball fans. It doesn't feel great being lied to like that and I'm disappointed about the way it all went down."

Asked then if Braun has reached out to him, Rodgers replied, “Yeah, I’ve talked to him.”

At the time, Rodgers wouldn’t address how the turn of events will affect their friendship or the Milwaukee-area restaurant 8-Twelve, which they are both involved with. However, he certainly didn’t rule out the possibility of ending his business association with Braun

“That’s yet to be determined yet,” Rodgers replied. “I don’t regret backing a friend up. Obviously, in hindsight, a more measured approach next time would obviously be the better course of action.”

Last week, SURG Restaurant Group announced that it was ending its relationship with Braun and that 8-Twelve would be renamed. Ryan Braun's Graffito Restaurant will stay open until the end of the year "to honor its pre-existing obligations to its customers and employees" before being shuttered, the group had said.

Michael Polaski, CEO and co-owner of SURG Restaurant Group, said in making the announcement that Rodgers will continue his relationship with SURG with a focus on community relations and charitable activities.

Asked Tuesday if he was talking with punter Tim Masthay, who wears No. 8 for the Packers, to replace Braun as a restaurant partner, Rodgers suggested Milwaukee Bucks player Larry Sanders, who also wears No. 8.

“He just signed an extension,” Rodgers joked, referring to Sanders’ recent $44 million deal. “I'm very happy for my Bucks there.”

According to SURG, however, the restaurant in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield will be renamed. A second 8-Twelve location, set to open at Bayshore Town Center, will still open but when and under what name has yet to be decided.

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Ryan Braun helps build homes for veterans with Habitat for Humanity

Ryan Braun may not be able to play baseball due to his 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy, but he was still working this weekend on a Habitat for Humanity project in Sylmar, Calif. Braun who accepted his suspension in July, was helping build housing for veterans.

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Ryan Braun calls Brewers season ticket holders to apologize

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee Brewers confirm that outfielder Ryan Braun was calling season ticket holders on Thursday, September 5th to apologize for his actions involving performance enhancing drugs.

The fans being called were 20-game season ticket holders, season ticket holders and some individual ticket holders. Team officials say Braun will not be calling everyone.

The idea of calling Brewers fans was apparently Braun’s entirely. He approached the team about a week ago and officials gave him the list of names and numbers to call. The team did not give Braun any kind of script from which to read.

“It was Ryan’s idea, and his initiative.  He reached out to us and said he wanted to call season seat-holders and some fans.  We said great.  We gave him some names and the contact information for some full season and partial season seat-holders, individual ticket purchasers.  We didn’t give him a script.  We didn’t tell him what to say or what he should say.  He said ‘I’ll go from there.’  He’s obviously started calling and started having some direct one-on-one conversations with fans.  I suspect it might have taken a little bit of time for some of the fans to realize it was really Ryan Braun instead of an imposter, but I think he’s started those calls and he’ll keep making calls,” Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger said.

Some fans receiving the calls from Braun don’t believe it is the Brewers outfielder — so it’s apparently taking a few moments for Braun to establish that fact with each caller.

“The feedback that we’ve gotten, again, they were initially skeptical that it was Ryan.  When they realized that it was, they respected the fact that he reached out and was talking to them.  I think, you know, regardless of how you feel about Ryan or what he needs to do, I think, you know, they’re going to respect him doing this.  And again, he doesn’t know what the response is going to be on the other end of that phone call.  He may be calling a season seat-holder that may just find him, you know, his conduct so unacceptable that he will never forgive him.  He may hear that on the phone.  I think Ryan understands that, you know, he is calling blind and is expecting a whole range of emotions and reactions.  I think even the fans that are very upset have said that they respect what he’s doing. And again, it doesn’t mean that one phone call cures all ills.  But again, for him to reach out is, I think,  at least an indication that he understands the depth of the effort that is needed to redeem himself, and he respects that the personal touch is important and necessary,” Schlesinger added.

Schlesinger told FOX6 News he feels Braun knows rebuilding his reputation among Brewers fans and Wisconsin sports fans is going to be a very long process.

“I don’t want to speculate, because I haven’t personally talked with Ryan about his next steps or his next plans.  But I do think Ryan understands that this is Wisconsin.  The connection that the fans have to the sports teams and their athletes is very personal.  You know, I think fans expect a lot of the sports teams that they support, and they expect a lot of the players that they admire and root for.  And when the trust is damaged, it’s a personal thing for a lot of fans.  I think Ryan understands that Wisconsin is different than most states.  Brewers fans are very intense Brewers fans, very loyal fans.  You know, I think he knows that it’s a long process.  And that process is going to take a lot of different forms.  But I don’t have a lot of information on next steps or specifics other that I do, I’m confident that Ryan understands that there’s many things he needs to do,” Schlesinger said.

Major League Baseball announced on July 22nd Braun was suspended, effective immediately, without pay for the rest of the season, and Braun is accepting the penalty. There was no appeal.

Braun didn’t look like he could be stopped during the 2011 season, leading the Brewers to the National League Championship Series, and claiming the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.

However, in December of that year, a report of Braun testing positive for performance enhancing drugs surfaced and the spectre of a suspension loomed.
A month later, Braun accepted his MVP award against a backdrop of controversy.

In February of 2012, arbitrators ruled that the chain of custody for Braun’s urine sample in question was compromised, clearing Braun from any MLB punishment. He forcefully defended his name at a Spring Training press conference.

Roughly a year later, Braun was back in the spotlight, connected to the disgraced Biogenesis Clinic in Miami, along with several other Big Leaguers. Braun claimed the connection was simply for consulting services during his successful 2012 appeal.

On July 9th, ESPN reported Braun’s refusal to answer investigators’ questions about the clinic and his possible PED usage subjected him to punishment once again.

Braun’s suspension will amount to 65 games.

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Ryan Braun loses restaurant deal

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who in July accepted a 65-game suspension for his ties to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal, still is seeing fallout from corporate America. On Thursday, SURG Restaurant Group, the company that manages restaurants in Wisconsin affiliated with Braun, announced it will sever its relationship with him. "We've appreciated the relationship we had with Ryan over the last several years, and the entire SURG family wishes him success in the future," Michael Polaski, CEO and co-owner of SURG, said in a statement. The group had a licensing deal with Braun for an Italian restaurant called Ryan Braun's Graffito Restaurant. SURG said it will keep the restaurant open until the end of the year "to honor its pre-existing obligations to its customers and employees." SURG also said it will change the name of its 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill -- the numbers of Braun and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, respectively -- at its current location, as well as at another restaurant that will open this fall. The company's deal with Rodgers will remain unchanged. "We look forward to the future with optimism, particularly with the opportunity to introduce and rebrand two, new exciting restaurant experiences," Omar Shaikh, SURG president and co-owner, said in a statement. The restaurant deal seemingly is the last shoe to drop for Braun, who also lost a deal with convenience store Kwik Trip and a shoe deal with Nike after he was suspended. A month after accepting the suspension, Braun apologized in a statement through the Brewers, admitting that he had used a banned substance in cream and lozenge form. "It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately," Braun said in the statement. "By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected -- my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB."

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Brewers embrace Ryan Braun's admission

CINCINNATI (AP) - Ryan Braun's acknowledgement that he used performance-enhancing drugs was welcomed in the Milwaukee Brewers' clubhouse, where players hope it helps to heal some of the pain caused by his actions and a resulting 65-game suspension.

"I thought it was a good first step on the road to redemption, I guess you could say," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said Friday before the start of a series against the Cincinnati Reds. Braun released a statement Thursday night acknowledging for the first time that he used a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while recovering from an injury in 2011, when he won the National League's MVP award. Several Brewers, including Lucroy, have stayed in touch with Braun by phone since he agreed to Major League Baseball's suspension on July 22. Lucroy expects Braun to have a news conference at some point to answer questions. F

or now, the statement sufficed. "It certainly was enough for me," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think it's enough for his teammates. He's made some calls to his teammates.

"I think no matter what he says, there's going to be some negative from a lot of people still: 'He didn't say enough (or) he didn't explain himself enough.' I think he did. And I also think there are some things he probably still can't say. As I read into how he said it, I think there are some things that probably he can't bring up. That's OK with me."

Reliever John Axford said the statement should bring some closure. "Knowing Ryan and understanding Ryan, I'm going to be able to move forward and I hope other people will be able too," Axford said. Braun's statement didn't provide any detail about exactly what substances he used or who provided them. Roenicke said Braun's probably limited in what he can say for now because of the legal ramifications.

His suspension resulted from Major League Baseball's investigation of Biogenesis of America, a clinic that was accused of providing banned substances to major leaguers. The clinic is now closed. Braun took full responsibility in his statement and apologized to numerous people. Lucroy said Braun will be welcomed back quicker by his teammates than he will be by others outside the team, even though he had misled his teammates as well. "I don't think it's going to be that difficult in here," Lucroy said.

"I think the outside, of course, is going to be harder to deal with. Within the clubhouse, I don't think so. If he comes back and is a good teammate and performs and contributes to the team winning, I don't see why he won't be welcomed back with open arms. "I'm sure he will because he's very talented." Axford said he's already moved beyond the matter.

"You can be upset, you can be angry, but in the clubhouse here we're close," Axford said. "We're friends. We're family. And you have to have faith and belief and trust in your family. "If you want to move past it, you have to be able to forgive, and that's where I'm at," Axford added. "I'm in the position where I want to be able to forgive and move past this and talk to Ryan like our friends and family." Roenicke agreed that Braun will have a tougher time being forgiven by those outside the club.

"This is a nice man," Roenicke said, sitting on the bench in the visitors' dugout at Great American Ball Park during batting practice. "He is. This is a nice young man that messed up. That's what it is. "And he's got a long road ahead of him. I'm sure he'll be yelled at at all of the stadiums he'll go to next year," Roenicke added.

"He's going to have things continually written about him. But it's a first step, I think, in trying to get through this, probably trying to heal up some relationships, whether it's the fans, whether it's his good friends, whether it's his teammates. "I think this is a nice step toward that," he said.


Ryan Braun apologizes for PED use

A month after acknowledging only that he made "mistakes," Ryan Braun admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs during his NL MVP season of 2011.
The suspended Milwaukee slugger said he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury.

"It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately," Braun said in a statement released by the Brewers.

Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October 2011, but his 50-game suspension was overturned when an arbitrator ruled that the urine sample was mishandled.

While Braun took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to the collector of the urine sample, teammates and Commissioner Bud Selig among others, the statement still leaves several key questions unanswered.

Among them: Who gave Braun the PEDs and where did they come from? What was the exact substance in the products? Did he know the cream and lozenge were tainted at the time he took them?

Last month Braun accepted a 65-game suspension resulting from Major League Baseball's investigation of the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of providing banned substances to players..

"By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected -- my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB."

Braun was the first of 14 players disciplined this year as a result of the Biogenesis probe. Twelve accepted 50-game penalties, including a trio of All-Stars: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game penalty, assessed for violations of the drug program and labor contract.

In his initial meeting with MLB investigators to discuss Biogenesis, Braun declined to answer questions. But in the statement, he said he initiated a second session with MLB where he admitted his guilt and began discussing a penalty.

"After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth," he said. "I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done."

Braun's urine tested positive for elevated testosterone from a sample collected on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, after Milwaukee's NL division series opener against Arizona. The drug collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., stored the samples from Braun and two other players at home and dropped them off at a Federal Express office on Monday, rather than send them immediately, as specified in baseball's drug collection rules.

The players' association argued that the specimen was handled improperly, and arbitrator Shyam Das overturned the discipline on Feb. 23 last year.

During a news conference the following day on the field at Milwaukee's spring training stadium in Phoenix, Braun proclaimed he had been vindicated and afterward his lawyer criticized Laurenzi when he defended himself.

"I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards," Braun said. "I have disappointed the people closest to me -- the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong."

After he accepted his suspension on July 22 -- 50 games for the drug infraction and 15 games for his conduct at the time of the grievance -- Braun was heavily criticized by players around the major leagues.

"I thought this whole thing has been despicable on his part," Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer said. "When he did get caught, he never came clean. He tried to question the ability of the collector when he was caught red-handed. So that's why the whole Braun situation, there is so much player outrage toward him."
But on Thursday, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said it's time to get past this.

"To me, it doesn't really matter what they say. Let's lay down the penalties and move on," he said. "I hope they continue to catch them."

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Ari Fleischer says Ryan Braun needs to 'bare his soul,' be contrite and be heartfelt

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer advised Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals when the former slugger needed a strategy to admit publicly that he used steroids.

Fleischer, who heads Ari Fleischer Sports Communications, was hired for a time by Tiger Woods after Woods’ private life became international news. Fleischer was used by the Packers in 2008 when they were dealing with the messy departure of quarterback Brett Favre.

So when Fleischer (left) called on Wednesday to talk about Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and how Braun might draw a map that could lead him back to some level of respectability, I was more than a little curious about his suggestions.

On Tuesday, this blog offered a sampling of opinion about what Braun needs to do next, the path he needs to walk, in order to restore his good name, if that is even possible.

“I say this as somebody who does not know him, doesn’t know his personality and that’s a very important starting point, because anything somebody does they have to do with credibility,” Fleischer said. “In his case, that has become a much higher hurdle. It’s very hard in the pr world to come up to the plate when you have two strikes against you.”

Braun was suspended by Major League Baseball this season because of his connections to the Biogenesis clinic and performance-enhancing drugs.

“There are three parts to it,” Fleischer said about what Braun should do. “One is a full mea culpa now, like Mark McGwire did. He has to bare his soul, explain he messed up. But it has to be heartfelt and he has to mean it. It can’t be mouthed. It can’t be somebody else’s creation. It has to be genuine or fans and reporters are going to see right through it.

“If he were a client, I would really work him over to make that assessment,” Fleischer said. “If they just can’t pull it off, because they are too arrogant or because they don’t believe it, then I would say you don’t have a way back.”

Part two in his plan is a little easier.

“Go away,” Fleischer said. “Then lay low. Go away. Accept your punishment.”

And part three, “Come back and get hot,” Fleischer said. “You let your bat do the talking.”

After demonstrating he can play at a high level without PEDs, then Braun “can urge people not to make the same mistake” he did.

Fleischer said people are more willing to forgive the transgressions of sports figures than politicians.

“Fans are interested in sports stars because they want to watch their games on the field,” he said. “People still have not given up hope, although it’s become harder every day, to see elected officials in a higher and better light. We expect more from elected officials than we do from a 23-year-old jock. So if an athlete lets us down for a personal transgression, none of us likes it. But we are willing to forgive. America is a very forgiving place for those who earn it and deserve it and for those who are sincere.”

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Lawsuit against Ryan Braun details efforts to fight drug test

MILWAUKEE - A former college classmate sued Ryan Braun, saying the Brewers slugger sought his help in fighting a failed drug test, balked on paying him and then disparaged him when asked why their friendship soured.

Ralph Sasson, a Milwaukee law student, said Braun's agent hired him in November 2011 to do legal research aimed at clearing Braun after the left fielder tested positive for steroid use. The agent later asked him to investigate the man who collected Braun's urine, Dino Laurenzi Jr., and Braun personally asked him to prank call two journalists working on a story about the failed test, according to the lawsuit filed last month in Milwaukee County court.

Braun was the first baseball player to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty in a grievance. He accepted a longer, 65-game suspension last month amid reports of ties to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to major leaguers but did not publicly admit using banned drugs.
Sasson said the initial deal called for him to be paid $2,000 for his research and $5,000 if Braun was exonerated. But Braun and his agent, Onesimo Balelo, balked at paying him the full amount after a baseball arbitrator overturned the left fielder's 50-game suspension in February 2012. Sasson eventually got paid, but he said his relationship with Braun soured and the baseball player lied when asked why.

"Braun has engaged in advancing the proposition that the reason for his falling out with Sasson was because Sasson had been rude to staff at Miller Park; Braun had received word that complaints had been filed due to Sasson's abhorrent behavior; that Sasson had "acted like an ass"; and that Sasson is crazy," the lawsuit says.

It seeks more than $10,000 for defamation and emotional distress.

"This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on Ryan's recent press attention for taking responsibility for his actions," Braun's attorney, Howard Weitzman, said in an email to The Associated Press during the weekend. "The factual allegations are untrue and the legal claims have absolutely no merit. We believe the lawsuit will be dismissed."

Weitzman had no further comment Monday.

According to his lawsuit, Sasson and Braun had been friends since junior high school and attended the University of Miami together. Sasson said Balelo did not mention Braun's name when he initially hired Sasson, but Sasson believed the player he was working to clear was his friend because there was no reason otherwise for an agent of Balelo's stature to call "a law student with very little practical experience."

Sasson said Braun later confirmed he was the player who failed the drug test.

The law student said he wrote a legal brief on the matter and then, at Balelo's request, ran a background check on Laurenzi. Braun's initial suspension was overturned after the outfielder's supporters showed Laurenzi collected the sample on a Saturday but did not send it to the lab until Monday.

Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

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Wis. Gov. Scott Walker: Ryan Braun's lying is 'like a shot to the gut'

Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun let down his fans and teammates by using performance-enhancing drugs and then lying about it. But he also let down Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an avid sports fan.

“I was defending Ryan Braun literally the Sunday night before the story broke. I feel a little bit like Lance Armstrong’s supporters … it was like a shot to the gut,” Mr. Walker, a Republican, said Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Last month, Mr. Braun was suspended for 65 games — the remainder of the season — and became the first of more than a dozen players caught up in baseball’s latest drug scandal. Mr. Braun adamantly had denied using performance-enhancing substances, and he apparently had convinced many highly influential figures in Wisconsin.

Mr. Walker and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers were among those who came to his defense.

“That’s the problem for a lot of us with Ryan Braun. … He kept telling us it didn’t happen. He kept putting out a plausible defense,” Mr. Walker said. “We were defending him up until the very end. It’s very frustrating.”

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Alex Rodriguez's associates leaked Ryan Braun

Members of New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez's inner circle were behind the leak of documents that named Ryan Braun and other players as steroid users, one of whom was his own teammate, CBS News says.

In an exclusive 60 Minutes report, sources say that people affiliated with Rodriguez, who was suspended Aug. 5 by Major League Baseball for 211 games for his use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs, gave unredacted documents to Yahoo! Sports implicating several players involved in the Biogenesis scandal.

Rodriguez is in the process of appealing his suspension, while more than a dozen MLB players, including Braun, accepted suspensions from the league.

Included in the list of players Rodriguez's associates implicated was Francisco Cervelli, a teammate of Alex's in New York.

Both Braun and Cervelli had their names blacked out in original documents provided to the Miami New Times, who broke the story in January.

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Ryan Braun sued by longtime friend

A longtime friend of Ryan Braun's filed a lawsuit against the suspended slugger last month, charging that Braun defamed him after the friend provided help in his successful appeal of Braun's positive steroid test in 2011.

Ralph Sasson, 29, makes a number of personal accusations against Braun, saying in the lawsuit that Braun doped through his years at the University of Miami, committed academic fraud and accepted money while a student.

Reached this week, Sasson declined to comment and said the lawsuit speaks for itself.

Braun's attorney, Howard Weitzman, rejected the claims.

"This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on Ryan's recent press attention for taking responsibility for his actions. The factual allegations and the legal claims have absolutely no merit. We believe the lawsuit will be dismissed," he said in a statement.

Sasson, who describes himself as a law student, says he was contacted by Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, in November 2011 after Braun was notified that he had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Part of his assignment, the lawsuit says, was to conduct background research on the man who collected Braun's urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr.

The lawsuit says Sasson was forced to threaten Braun and Balelo with a lawsuit in order to recover $5,000 that he says was promised, and that he was paid last year when he agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But Sasson charges that Braun violated that agreement when he made what Sasson calls defamatory statements about him to undisclosed parties. Sasson asks for unspecified damages in the complaint.

The lawsuit also says that Braun asked Sasson to "prank call" ESPN "Outside the Lines" reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada, who was working with reporter T.J. Quinn on a story in December 2011 that Braun had failed a PED test. According to the lawsuit, Braun wanted Sasson to say, "The original information Quinn and Fainaru-Wada had obtained regarding Braun was part of an elaborate conspiracy to assassinate the character of multiple baseball players and agents including, but not limited to, Ryan Braun."

Sasson says in the lawsuit that he refused.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported Friday that Braun is close to admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs during parts of the 2011 season. The newspaper, citing friends of Braun who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the suspended slugger plans to apologize to commissioner Bud Selig, urine collector Dino Laurenzi Jr., his teammates and his peers.

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Nike cuts ties with Ryan Braun

Nike Inc. severed its endorsement contract with former National League MVP Ryan Braun, who on July 22 was suspended by Major League Baseball for the remainder of the season due to drug violations, company spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in an email.

Braun isn't the first athlete to be let go by Nike, which released seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in the wake of his admission to using performance-enhancing drugs. Braun repeatedly denied using drugs after failing a test during the 2011 post-season.

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Aaron Rodgers bets Denver man that Ryan Braun didn't do drugs: Will Super Bowl MVP pay up?

DENVER - So the question is will Green Bay packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers pony up after losing a $4.5 million bet he made with a Denver man?

That man, 37-year-old Todd Sutton, tweeted to Rodgers in February 2012 after Rodgers defended his friend and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who at the time was accused of using performance enhancing drugs. 

Braun had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone at the end of the 2011 season but successfully appealed the suspension, challenging the chain of custody of the sample rather than the test results.

When the suspension was lifted on Feb. 23, 2012, Rodgers tweeted, "When its guilty until proven innocent, all u need are the facts. #howsthecrowmlb #exonerated"

Rodgers continued,"I'll let my buddy take it from here. All u idiots talking about technicality open up for some crow too. See if Espn gets pressured not to..."
Sutton tweeted to Rodgers, "You really believe he didn't (do) PED's???? #delusional."

Rodgers tweeted back to Sutton,"ya I'd put my salary next year on it. #ponyup #exonerated."

Well on Monday, when Braun was suspended the rest of the season for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, Braun admitted to using performance enhancing drugs although he was not specific.

"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said in a statement. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."

So now that Braun has admitted his drug use, will Rodgers give up a year's salary?

Sutton told 7NEWS he has joked about just taking a single game check, but didn't realize it was $281,250.

"That's a lot of money! I'd take a lot less," Sutton laughed. "But it's not about the money for me. I'm not pestering him trying to get money from him, I just think this is funny."

Sutton said he doesn't expect to hear from Rodgers. The flight nurse for AirLife Denver was stunned last year when Rodgers tweeted him.

"I was kind of surprised. Aaron Rodgers ... responded to me. And now this (bet) has taken a life of its own," Sutton said.

Sutton said he was never questioning Rodgers' loyalty to his friend, just his judgment. He had said on Twitter that Rodgers was a great quarterback but either ignorant or naive.

"They are friends. He's sticking up for his buddy. He's not being objective," Sutton tweeted last year.

Besides both being sports stars in Wisconsin, Braun and the Packers quarterback both own a restaurant together, 8- Twelve MVP Bar and Grill in Brookfield, Wisc., named after their jersey numbers.

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Stop telling Ryan Braun to give back the 2011 MVP Award

For whatever reason, every time a baseball player is determined or even suspected to be using performance-enhancing drugs, a huge group of fans and media enter a bizarre game of one-upsmanship to try to prove they are the most outraged. Many call for punishments far beyond the ones actually facing the players, lifetime bans and voided contracts and the like.

Right now, in the wake of Ryan Braun’s suspension, much of the baseball world seems locked on a target: Braun should be forced to hand over his 2011 NL MVP Award to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. Kemp himself suggested Braun should relinquish the prize.

OK, I hear you, but why? Not just “because Ryan Braun took steroids.” Why do you feel that stripping Ryan Braun of his 2011 NL MVP is an appropriate punishment for Braun in addition to the punishment set by Major League Baseball that he is currently serving?

Is it that you don’t want Braun to hold on to the physical award itself? That’s not unreasonable; it probably makes for a really nice decoration. But if Braun and everyone who follows baseball realizes that he received that honor for the season in which he first tested positive for PEDs — it was in the playoffs, where performances don’t count for the MVP Award, but whatever — then what difference does it make if Braun holds the actual trophy?

You can argue that Kemp deserves the award, and that’s fair: Kemp deserved the award in the first place, hitting about as well as Braun while playing the more difficult outfield position. But to say that Kemp should get the award now that we know Braun may have played with the added benefit of PEDs assumes that Kemp did not.

This is not to besmirch Kemp’s character in any way: Every bit of evidence we have suggests Kemp is an excellent dude. And his comments strongly suggest he did not chemically enhance his performance that season. But then, so did Braun’s. If — as plenty have said — Braun’s denial and subsequent suspension means we can’t take ballplayers on their words, how could anyone besides Kemp himself know his actions that season?

For that matter, if we’re now going back and taking away MVP Awards from players we suspect took steroids, what do we do about the last 20 years’ worth of MVP Awards? The winners’ ranks include Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Ken Caminiti. Do we now give out Bonds’ 2001-2004 prizes to the second-place guys every year? In many cases, that guy’s another suspected juicer! And then what of the MVP Awards Bonds won in 1990, 1992 and 1993? There’s no clear (pardon the pun) milestone at which to draw that line.

Moreover, the MVP Award is by definition given to the player deemed most valuable to his team in a given season. How does Braun’s 2013 suspension mitigate his production for the 2011 Brewers? You can claim Monday’s revelation taints the memory of Braun’s great season or destroys its legacy. But you can’t reasonably say that Braun was not an extraordinarily valuable player to the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers, since every one of his 187 hits and 33 home runs still counts.

Baseball’s records are chock full suspected and confirmed cheaters, dating back to way, way before the so-called steroids era. It’s human nature, and it’s history. It doesn’t make cheating right and it doesn’t mean the league shouldn’t do everything in its power to stop it from happening. But it happens, and it happened, and it will happen again.

Ryan Braun, unlike many in the game’s past, is actually paying for his indiscretion. Any anger over those that never did should hardly be directed toward Braun, and there’s no sense fretting now over prizes for past performances.

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Jon Jay lauds suspension of friend, former Miami teammate Ryan Braun

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay is a friend and former teammate of Ryan Braun's at the University of Miami.

The Milwaukee Brewers' Braun was suspended for 65 games Monday for violation of baseball's substance-abuse policy.

"I was just as shocked as everyone else," said Jay, the Cardinals' player representative. "I'm glad that he was finally able to come out and put this behind him and move forward. It just shows that Major League Baseball's doing the best job (it) can to clean the game up, and I'm proud to say that. I'm happy about that.

"I believe in doing what's right, and the right thing is if you've cheated or done something that you're not supposed to do, you should be punished for it. I'm all for that; I believe that. I'm glad everything got resolved. ... Everyone knows the truth now and we've got to move on."

Jay still considers Braun a friend.

"My thoughts aren't going to change on him," Jay said. "He's been there for me and (has) been a good friend. I've learned a lot from him over the years. I'll stand by that. But I'm happy the system is working. He admitted to cheating and I'm glad he's getting punished for it."

The Cardinals' Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and David Freese refused comment about Braun's suspension.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who played with Mark McGwire in St. Louis and Barry Bonds in San Francisco, disdains PEDs.

"It's cheating the game," Matheny said. "It's no good for our kids that are watching, the next generation of fans. But the guys who are directly impacted are the other players who are clean. ... Their salaries are being measured against the guys who are cheating."

Matheny said playing in the PED era of the late 1990s and early 2000s was "a weird time."

"Many of us had suspicions because you heard the rumors," Matheny said. "But guys didn't go around talking about it. I always took the perspective that I had to take care of myself. I'm very proud to be able to have my career and know I did things the right way in my mind.

"But in the same breath, I don't know where other people are coming from, what made them make the decisions they made. It wasn't my job to judge them. I do know, for the good of the game, there needed to be a system in place to help be accountable."

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Ryan Braun suspended for rest of season

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season, a 65-game ban announced Monday by Major League Baseball in what appears to be the first salvo in the league's fight against players allegedly tied to the Biogenesis lab.

The announcement from commissioner Bud Selig said the suspension was for violations of the basic agreement and its joint drug prevention and treatment program and is effective immediately.

"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said in a statement released by MLB that did not specifically mention Biogenesis. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."

Braun is the first player suspended in the wake of baseball's Biogenesis investigation, though the MLB release did not mention that probe. The commissioner's office tried to suspend Braun in 2012 for a urine sample with elevated levels of testosterone, but an arbitrator ruled that a Braun's urine sample was mishandled and Braun succesfully appealed the suspension.

Braun is making $9.61 million this season; the suspension will cost him $3.85 million in salary. Braun is under contract through 2020 in Milwaukee after signing a five-year, $105 million extension in April 2011.

It appears Braun and MLB negotiated the terms of his suspension; he is one of about 20 players who figure to face discipline in the Biogenesis, a list that includes former All-Stars like Alex Rodriguez, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera.

More than 80 players' names appear in the Biogenesis documents that eventually ended up in MLB's hands after it struck a deal with Tony Bosch, who founded the now-shuttered Miami clinic.

"I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step," said Mike Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. "It vindicates the rights of all players under the Joint Drug Program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field."

Weiner said at baseball's All-Star break that appeals in the matter could drag into the winter.

Braun is the face of the Brewers franchise. He was most valuable player in the National league in 2011, the season of his disputed urine sample. He has led the NL in slugging percentage three times.

Braun's statement continued: "This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country.

"Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love."

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Ryan Braun Case Will Probably Take Months to Resolve

Conclusive news on whether Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will sweat out an MLB-imposed suspension due to an investigation into a Florida anti-aging clinic could be several months away.

At a meeting today with the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Michael Weiner, director of the MLB player's union, told reporters that he and other union officials would push to keep suspensions secret until arbitration hearings have concluded, as permitted under a 2002 agreement between the league and union. Weiner said any suspended players would attempt to defend themselves through arbitration, with hearings starting this fall, or possibly later, effectively delaying any announcements into the next season, according to the Associated Press.

To keep news of the suspensions from getting out, the union would have to contend that the information used as justification for the discipline has not yet been made public. This portion of the agreement was designed to protect the reputations of players who succeed at exonerating their names, though some of that damage has already occurred, following investigative coverage in the The Miami New Times related to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida. The stories could prove problematic for the union and for Braun, whom MLB officials have attempted to question.

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Report: A-Rod, Braun and others may consider plea deal with MLB

According to Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News, Alex Rodriguez's legal team is internally discussing a possible plea deal in the wake of Friday's interview with MLB's investigators regarding the ongoing Biogenesis scandal. It is believed the league broached the subject of settlements during their meetings with Ryan Braun and other players as well.

From the Daily News report:

According to the sources, a 150-game suspension might be the best that could be expected for Rodriguez, who is rehabbing from hip surgery with high Single-A Tampa and was chastised by the Yankees Saturday for failing to report to the team's complex for Friday night's game following a four-and-a-half hour meeting with MLB officials who outlined their case against him.

According to another source, Rodriguez's meeting with MLB ended at about 4 p.m., and a clearly shaken Rodriguez then met with MLB Players Association reps for an hour and a half to discuss what had been outlined by MLB officials. When Rodriguez didn't show up at the Yankee complex, GM Brian Cashman then tried to reach the three-time AL MVP, who told him that he “just couldn't make it.”

Meanwhile, an A-Rod spokesman told The News Saturday night in reference to a possible plea deal that “nobody from Alex's team has made any such comments, and as we have said before, we are respecting the process and following the procedures as outlined in the joint agreement."

Under the Joint Drug Agreement, players are suspended 50 games for their first violation, 100 games for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third. A 150-game suspension is not specified in the agreement.

The Daily News coverage alleges that MLB, who is working with Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch, has extensive evidence -- including testimony from Bosch -- that A-Rod "committed multiple violations of the Joint Drug Agreement, including acquiring performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch for several years."

“I can see a scenario where if they've got multiple offenses (against A-Rod) that rather than going for his career with an arbitrator, baseball might settle on something like 150 games,” said one of the Daily News' sources. Another said: "The bottom line is (MLB) wants these guys out of the game ... In (A-Rod's) case, 150 games would sufficiently accomplish that.”

Rodriguez, 37, is working his way back from offseason left hip surgery and has not played this year. He is currently on a minor league rehab assignment that expires one week from Monday. No player is paid during a drug-related suspension. A-Rod still has four years and nearly $100 million remaining on his contract after this season.

Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in South Florida, has been under investigation by MLB for potential ties to performance-enhancing drugs. Bosch agreed to cooperate with the investigation after being threatened with a lawsuit.

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Ryan Braun suspension expected after all-star break

ESPN reported Tuesday that Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun would not answer questions from Major League Baseball investigators about his connection to the Biogenesis clinic and former operator Tony Bosch and is expected to be suspended along with several other players after the all-star break.

A commissioner's office spokesman said the ESPN report was "premature" in saying that a decision had been made to suspend Braun or any player suspected of buying performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch.

"We are still in the midst of an active investigation," said spokesman Pat Courtney. "No decisions (on suspensions) have been made."

MLB has been in the process of interviewing players whose names were listed on documents from Biogenesis leaked to various news organizations at the start of the year. Braun's name was listed more than once with payments owed Bosch, but Braun has maintained his attorneys merely used Bosch as a consultant for what became a successful appeal of a positive test for elevated testosterone levels in October 2011.

Bosch initially supported Braun's consultant claim. But he later agreed to cooperate with the MLB investigation to have litigation against him dropped and could have changed his testimony. Because Bosch might not be considered a credible witness, however, MLB would need solid evidence against Braun to make a suspension stick.

Through the Brewers' media relations department, Braun said he would not comment on the latest ESPN report. He was back in the starting lineup against Cincinnati at Miller Park after missing a month with a thumb injury.

Braun was interviewed by MLB on June 29 while the Brewers were in Pittsburgh and declined to answer questions relating to Biogenesis and Bosch. In essence, he took the fifth, a decision that had to be supported by his representatives at the meeting. At least one representative from the players' union was present as well, as agreed upon by MLB.

ESPN said Commissioner Bud Selig's office is considering 100-game bans for both Braun and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense under the MLB drug policy. Neither player has yet been found guilty of a first offense.

The thinking behind a 100-game suspension is that Braun and Rodriguez, and perhaps others, committed multiple offense by buying PEDs, then lying about it. Or, in Braun's case, refusing to answer questions about it.

MLB did suspend minor-league pitcher Cesar Carrillo, a former teammate of Braun's at the University of Miami, for 100 games for refusing to cooperate earlier this year with the Biogenesis investigation. Carrillo did not have the protection of the Major League Baseball Players Association and therefore couldn't appeal the penalty.

MLB is expected to announce any suspensions from Biogenesis shortly after the all-star break. Players who draw suspensions and appeal them would be allowed to keep playing until a ruling is made by an arbitration panel. Depending on the number of appeals, that process could take several weeks.

Under the MLB drug policy, suspensions levied for failed drug tests are supposed to be kept confidential until the appeal process is completed and denied. Because the names of players connected to Biogenesis have been made public, however, MLB intends to announce any suspensions en masse before appeals.

Whether MLB would try to suspend Braun merely for refusing to answer questions about the Biogenesis investigation remains to be seen. Because the idea has been floated that MLB has a vendetta against Braun for winning the appeal of his drug test in February 2012, MLB likely would have to produce evidence or testimony that he bought PEDs from Bosch.

The "vendetta" notion came after MLB vigorously protested the decision of arbitrator Shayam Das, who ruled in Braun's favor, then later fired Das. Braun was exonerated by Das because of questions about the chain of custody of Braun's urine sample, which MLB officials considered a technicality.

Braun repeatedly has denied using PEDs, dating to his appeal of his positive drug test. By declining to answer questions about Biogenesis and Bosch, he and his representatives basically decided not to give MLB anything it could use against him in the investigation.

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Ryan Braun didn't answer questions

Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun, who has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs, refused to answer questions during a recent meeting with Major League Baseball about his connection to Tony Bosch and the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, sources told "Outside the Lines."

The meeting took place June 29, a source said, and is one of several that MLB has conducted with players connected to the clinic. A source said New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has not been interviewed, but a meeting is expected to take place within the week.

Commissioner Bud Selig's office is expected to suspend Braun and Rodriguez, along with as many as 20 players sometime after next week's All-Star break, for their roles in the Biogenesis case, several sources told "Outside the Lines." As OTL reported, MLB started building cases against the players last month after Bosch agreed to cooperate with investigators.

The question is the length of the suspensions.

Sources said the commissioner's office was considering 100-game bans for Braun and Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense, even though neither player was previously suspended for violating MLB's drug policy.

The argument, one source said, would be that they -- and possibly other players -- committed multiple offenses by receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch and by lying about it.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Rodriguez will meet with MLB on Friday but said the injured slugger likely will refuse to answer questions. The source also told ESPNNewYork.com that 10 players already have met with MLB but have refused to answer questions.

Bosch's attorneys have met repeatedly with MLB officials over the past month, turning over numerous documents to substantiate his connection to the players named in company documents, sources have said.

While sources would not detail what Bosch has turned over, he was expected to provide phone, text, email and other records.

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Ryan Braun could return from injury this week

If all goes well, the Milwaukee Brewers hope to get Ryan Braun back on the field for their weekend series in Arizona before the all-star break, with a slight chance of playing beforehand.

Braun has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb/hand injury since June 10 but took batting practice on the field Saturday for the first time since being sidelined and tolerated swinging the bat.

"He is getting pretty close," said manager Ron Roenicke. "He'll be out on the field again (Monday) and the next day. He's got to get his legs under him, too. I know he's in shape and he's doing all these things but just being out on the field, similar to spring training, for three or four hours, your body has to adjust to it. You're going to go through a sore stage.

"If we can get him back maybe before the all-star break and let him play in some games, and then use the break to allow him to recoup, that would be ideal. Hopefully, those things will work out."

Roenicke said he hadn't heard of any ill effects from Braun's on-field batting practice Saturday, which was a good sign. At this point, the goal is to get him on the field for the Arizona series but probably not all four games and not all nine innings.

"I think that's probably a good thing to shoot for," said Roenicke. "I know he probably wants to go before that, but we'll see how it goes tomorrow and the next day. With a day game Wednesday (against the Reds), it kind of makes sense to let him roll over to Arizona."

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Ryan Braun targets Thursday return

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is hoping to return to the lineup on Thurday, MLB.com reported Sunday.

Braun’s optimism was bolstered with a good batting practice session on Saturday. He has been on the disabled list since June 14 because of nerve inflammation between his right thumb and forefinger.

The Thursday return hinges on how batting-practice sessions go the next few days. The Brewers begin a four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday heading into the All-Star break.

“I wouldn’t say (Thursday) is as soon as he could play,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, “but I think that’s probably a good thing to shoot for. I know he’s probably wanting to go before that, but we’ll see how it goes (Monday) and the next day.”

Roenicke indicated that Braun, who said he was feeling good after Saturday’s BP, would ease back into the lineup.

“He’s got to get his legs under him,” Roenicke said, according to MLB.com. “If we can get him maybe back before the All-Star break and let him play in some games, and then use the break as kind of how you would recuperate in spring training, that would be ideal.”

In 57 games this season, Braun is batting .304 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs.

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Ryan Braun improving after hitting session

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Braun and Wily Peralta were both feeling better Wednesday, although the Milwaukee Brewers couldn't put a return date on either injured player.

Manager Ron Roenicke was heartened by Braun's response to a batting cage session Tuesday. Braun was scheduled to take some more swings and play some catch before Wednesday's game against the Washington Nationals.

Braun has been out since June with a bruised right thumb, and the Brewers lineup has suffered mightily without the 2011 NL Most Valuable Player.

Roenicke said Braun might be able to return before the All-Star break, which would be earlier than previously expected.

"With the progress that he made the last couple of days, I think it's a possibility," the manager said.

Braun said Tuesday night that the thumb is not "pain-free" but is "a lot better than it was."

Meanwhile, Peralta was able to work out in the weight room and play some catch a day after a strained left hamstring forced him from a game in the sixth inning.

Nevertheless, Peralta's next scheduled start, on Sunday against the New York Mets, is in jeopardy and likely will be determined by the training staff.

"I think that's still iffy. ... To put him back out there if they don't think he's 100 percent, I don't think we'll do that," Roenicke said.

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Ryan Braun likely to remain on DL longer than expected

When Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was placed on the disabled list with a thumb injury last week, the initial expectation from Brewers camp was that he'd only miss the minimum 15 days. Instead, the hand injury -- inflammation around a nerve between Braun's right thumb and index finger -- could keep him out as long as a month (MLB.com).

The MLB.com report indicates Braun returning next week when eligible is still an "outside" shot, but the most likely scenario is that he won't be ready in time.
As things currently stand, Braun will avoid surgery but has been completely shut down. The longer he stays shut down while allowing the hand to heal, the more likely he'll need a minor-league rehab assignment before being ready to rejoin his teammates.

Braun, 29, is hitting .304/.380/.595 with nine homers and 36 RBI this season.

This is the first disabled list stint of Braun's seven-year career.

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Ryan Braun: Suspensions likely in Biogenesis case

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that people who have spoken with MLB investigators feel it's likely that "at least some" suspensions will be issued in the Biogenesis case.
MLB has begun interviewing players associated with the case, though they have yet to talk to Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez, seemingly because they want to gather enough evidence before confronting them. Interestingly, Heyman notes that MLB officials believe the league's Joint Drug Agreement may allow it to announce suspensions before any appeal process because the names involved have already been leaked. The MLBPA obviously wouldn't be happy with that. While Braun and Rodriguez have garnered most of the attention in the case, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero are among the other players who have been connected to the now-shuttered clinic.

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Injured Braun visits hand specialist

HOUSTON -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was in Phoenix on Tuesday to see Dr. Don Sheridan, the hand specialist who has worked on a number of players over the years including second baseman Rickie Weeks.

Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the trip represented "a due diligence second opinion" on the injury that sent Braun to the disabled list for the first time in his career, and was not a reflection of any new development.

Braun had been playing through an inflamed nerve between his right thumb and forefinger for several weeks, hitting with diminished power. When skipping the Brewers' three-game series in Miami did not cure the problem, the club opted to put Braun on the DL.

Ash said Braun was expected to rejoin the team on Wednesday. He is eligible for reinstatement from the DL on June 25.

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Ryan Braun remains fourth in all-star balloting

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun remains fourth in the balloting among National League outfielders according to the voting totals released by Major League Baseball today.

With 1,645,084 votes, Braun has fallen way behind the pace. St. Louis' Carlos Beltran, who ranked third in the balloting last week but has surged into the lead this week with 2,385,240 votes.

Atlanta's Justin Upton (2,054,225) and Washington's Bryce Harper (1,981,030) rank second and third.

Braun isn't likely to gain any ground in the coming week either, as he's now on the disabled list with a right-thumb contusion.

Carlos Gomez jumped up one spot to 11th this week with 1,027,684 votes.

Other Brewers leaders include shortstop Jean Segura, who remains at third in the balloting at that position with 1,188,317 votes.

The leading vote-getter at shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki (2,443,772) suffered a broken rib last week and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

That could open the door for Segura to be the NL's starting shortstop, considering second-place vote-getter Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (1,293,476) doesn't have near the numbers Segura has posted to this point.

At catcher, Jonathan Lucroy moved up to fourth place with 630,902. Lucroy trails NL leading vote-getter Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants (2,606,434), St. Louis' Yadier Molina (2,543,588) and New York's John Buck (866,471).

The All-Star Game will be played on July 16 at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The all-star teams will be announced on July 7.

Both the NL and AL teams will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves are determined through a combination of player ballots and selections made by the managers for each all-star team.

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Brewers place Ryan Braun on DL

CINCINNATI -- The Brewers lost another close game and their best player, the latest setbacks to an already disheartening season.

Milwaukee put outfielder Ryan Braun on the 15-day disabled list after a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

The Brewers hoped Braun could get back into the lineup on Friday. He'd missed four games while resting a sore right thumb, but went out to take batting practice. The session didn't go well, leaving Milwaukee with no other choice.

Braun is batting .304 with nine homers and 36 RBIs. He won the NL's Most Valuable Player award in 2011 and finished second to San Francisco's Buster Posey last year.

"He went out and swung today, took batting practice and the soreness is still there," manager Ron Roenicke said. "This is a move we tried to avoid. After talking to him, I think this is the right way to go."

Earlier this month, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported that Braun is among a group of major league players facing a suspension for his connection to an anti-aging clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal.

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Ryan Braun: Thumb Failing To Improve

After sitting out his third straight game Wednesday, Braun said his injured thumb has felt the same way it did heading into the three-game series with the Marlins, MLB.com reports.

Though Braun has not swung a bat since leaving Sunday's game in the third inning, manager Ron Roenicke indicated he wouldn't have had any qualms about using him in a big pinch-hitting situation if necessary, but that never materialized during the Marlins series. With a team day off Thursday, the Brewers hope Braun can be back in the fold Friday for the first game of the weekend series with the Reds, but if there's no sign of improvement in the next couple days, a trip to the DL would become increasingly likely.

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Ryan Braun's hand 'about the same'

Miami -- The good news about Ryan Braun's injured right hand is that it hasn't gotten any worse since leaving in the third inning of Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Miller Park.

The bad news is it hasn't really gotten much better, either, despite Braun being held out of the starting lineup for all three of the Milwaukee Brewers' games against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park.

"It's about the same," he said this afternoon.

Braun and the Brewers have tried a different approach with the injury since heading out on this nine-game road trip, with the leftfielder doing essentially nothing that might aggravate his hand even worse -- specifically, swinging a bat.

"We've tried not to," Braun said. "We're trying not to do anything that irritates it, and every time I've swung that's seemed to irritate it. So I'm trying not to swing."
Manager Ron Roenicke said coming into the series that he'd have to weigh using Braun as a pinch hitter in a game based on the situation.

Runners on, late in the game, chance to win it and perhaps Roenicke asks Braun if he wants to give it a shot. But in doing so, there's the distinct possibility that Braun further aggravates the hand and making it even more of an issue down the line.

Braun hasn't been needed in the first two games, which the Brewers have split with the Marlins, and there's an off-day looming tomorrow heading into a three-game weekend series in Cincinnati.

So has any progress been made with all the steps that have been taken?

"Maybe very minimal," Braun said. "Very minimal."

Braun was asked if he's disappointed with the situation, and how long the injury has lingered. He's been battling it for about a month now, essentially changing his swing and losing the ability to drive the ball when he has played.

The Brewers, meanwhile, have scuffled considerably.

"I don't know, man. I try not to get disappointed," he said. "I just keep an open mind and just deal with what I can. Hopefully it starts to get better.

"I'm optimistic and hopeful that it will start to improve sometime soon."

No doubt, the Brewers would love to have him back in the lineup and swinging well with an NL Central Division rival in the Reds looming next. But that decision will have to wait until Friday at Great American Ball Park.

"It's always day to day," he said. "Obviously I hope that I can play sooner than later. I just don't know."

Assuming Braun is back in the lineup Friday, Roenicke is hoping to see some marked improvement in how his leftfielder's hand is feeling. If not, the disabled list might be broached as a possibility.

"If things Friday, Saturday don't go well, then we'll see what we need to do," Roenicke said.

"It's going to get better. It's whether four days is enough. I don't know."

If Braun doesn't get an at-bat tonight, it will mark the second complete series he'll have missed this season.

He sat out April 5-7 with neck spasms against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park, a series Arizona wound up sweeping.

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Ryan Braun drops in balloting

Braun fell from third to fourth in all-star balloting for National League outfielders in the totals announced Monday.

Braun was passed up by St. Louis' Carlos Beltran, who has 1,550,884 votes to Braun's 1,283,103. Atlanta's Justin Upton leads all NL outfielders with 1,666,026 votes, and Washington's BryceHarper is second with 1,616,784.

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Ryan Braun decides to rest his ailing right hand

Miami — While there's been no definitive decision, there's a chance Ryan Braun will be held out of all three of the Milwaukee Brewers' games against the Miami Marlins to open the team's nine-game, 11-day road trip.

"It's possible," Braun said Monday. "I don't think anything's set in stone. But it's possible."

Braun left Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Miller Park in the third inning after aggravating his injured right hand, with Logan Schafer replacing him both in that game and in Monday's 6-1 victory at Marlins Park.

There is precedent for Braun being held out of a chunk of games. He did so in the second series of the season when he was dealing with neck spasms. The Brewers went on to lose all three of those games.

If he took off all three games in Miami, the Brewers then have Thursday off before opening a weekend series in Cincinnati.

"We've talked about it," manager Ron Roenicke said about Braun possibly being held out for the series. "We'll kind of see how it goes. There's a chance that to get him right, we may have to do that."

Braun was available to pinch hit but ultimately was held out Monday. To use him, Roenicke will have to weigh risk vs. reward to try and keep the hand from flaring up.

"It becomes a decision whether I think the one at-bat has a chance to set him back and how important the at-bat is," Roenicke said.

Braun said pinch hitting in previous games has aggravated his hand.

"There have been a couple times where I've taken a day," he said. "But the first time I had a day off, I pinch hit. The next time I took a single day. I'm not going to take BP today. I'm going to try to not do anything that irritates it, and we'll see where we're at tomorrow and over the next couple days.

"But it's definitely at the point to where we need to get it back to close to being healthy, and I need to get to the point to where I can take a regular swing."

Has the disabled list been discussed as a possibility?

"We'll wait and see what happens," Roenicke said. "We haven't talked about doing that yet. Hopefully it won't come to that."

Braun was asked when exactly he injured his hand.

"It happened about a month ago," he said. "I don't remember the game, but it was a specific instance on a swing. When it originally happened, my thumb was numb for like a week, week and a half. I eventually got the feeling back.

"It's not just my thumb. It's my hand. There's a nerve and a ligament in my hand. The majority of it has been between my index finger and the thumb."

Braun said to this point, nothing he or the team's athletic training staff has tried has helped greatly aside from taking time off.

"We've discussed the last month, off an on, trying to figure out the best way to deal with thing," he said. "We've tried all kinds of different treatments, then we tried different stuff in the batting glove and on the bat to try and relieve some of the pain.

"But it's at the point where I'm going to take a little time to try and get it right."

Braun's swing has become markedly different while he has dealt with the injury.

While he's hitting .304, his ability to drive the ball has been almost non-existent.

Braun has nine home runs, tying him for second on the Brewers with Jean Segura, but has just one extra-base hit in June and only two in his last 13 games.
"I've tried to change the way I've held the bat, tried to change my bat path, tried to do a lot of different things to compensate for the pain and get it to the point to where it doesn't hurt when I swing," said Braun.

"But I haven't been overly successful doing it. So it's at the point to where I need to take the time to get it back to close to being healthy so I can take a regular swing and hold the bat the way I regularly hold the bat."

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Ryan Braun: 'The truth has not changed'

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NEW YORK — The founder of a Miami anti-aging clinic has agreed to talk to Major League Baseball about players linked to performance-enhancing drugs, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

The person declined to be identified because the investigation was still ongoing.

Information that Anthony Bosch provides MLB on players who came to the now-closed Biogenesis of America clinic could lead to 100-game suspensions. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera as well as former Indians Jhonny Peralta and Bartolo Colon are among the players whose names have been tied to the clinic.

The agreement between Bosch and MLB was first reported by ESPN.

In addition to Rodriguez, New York Yankees teammate Francisco Cervelli also was linked to the clinic. Cervelli said he consulted Biogenesis for a foot injury, but didn't receive any treatment.

"We'll let MLB handle everything and we don't really have a comment," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after a 4-3 win over Cleveland.

Girardi said the Yankees were still planning on Rodriguez rejoining the team after the All-Star break. The star third baseman has been on the disabled list all season.

As for the drug cloud that has hovered over baseball for years, Girardi said: "I think we all had hoped we'd gotten through it. But obviously, we haven't."

Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells said it was too soon to draw any conclusions.

"Everything right now is speculative," Wells said. "We can all sit here and wonder."

MLB has sued Biogenesis of America and its operators, accusing them of scheming to provide banned PEDs to players in violation of their contracts.

Miami New Times reported in January that it obtained purported records detailing drug purchases by Rodriguez, Cabrera, Cruz and former AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon.

Yahoo Sports reported that Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, was mentioned in the records.

Most have denied the Biogenesis link, although Rodriguez has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career and Colon and Cabrera each were suspended for 50 games last year for testing positive for elevated testosterone levels.

Braun failed a drug test in 2011, but his suspension was overturned by an arbitrator. He has acknowledged that he was mentioned in Biogenesis records because his lawyers had used Bosch as consultant during the appeal.

After the Brewers' 4-3 win in 10 innings over Oakland at Miller Park, Braun said he was done talking about the clinic.

"I've already addressed everything related to the Miami situation. I addressed it in spring training. I will not make any further statements about it," he said.
"The truth has not changed," he said.

Braun said the speculation was not affecting him on the field.

"No, of course not. I've dealt with this for two years now. I'm pretty good at avoiding distractions," he said.

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MLB trying to suspend Ryan Braun

Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other players connected to the PED scandal at the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic could be suspended soon by Major League Baseball, according to a new ESPN "Outside the Lines" report.

There's a startling new development making this all possible. Clinic owner Anthony Bosch had agreed to cooperate with Major League Baseball's investigation. From ESPN's story:

One source familiar with the case said the commissioner's office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is that the players' connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another. Bosch and his attorneys did not return several calls. MLB officials refused to comment when reached Tuesday.

Bosch is expected to begin meeting with officials — and naming names — within a week. The announcement of suspensions could follow within two weeks.

Investigators have had records naming about 20 players for more than a month. But without a sworn statement from Bosch that the records are accurate and reflect illicit interactions between the players and the self-described biochemist, the documents were little more than a road map.

This could be a league-shaking development. Among the players already connected to Biogenesis through documents leaked to the Miami New Times, Yahoo! Sports and ESPN: A-Rod, Braun, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera. Other players could still be linked to Biogenesis through Bosch's testimony.

The ESPN story also says that Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez may be "possibly exonerated." He had previously passed a post-Biogenesis drug test. There are also questions about Yankees star Robinson Cano's ties to the clinic. More from ESPN:

In exchange for Bosch's full cooperation, sources said, Major League Baseball will drop the lawsuit it filed against Bosch in March; indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation; provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that may bring charges against him. Sources said negotiations over the agreement, which lasted several weeks, stalled over the last point, as Bosch wanted the strongest assurances he could get that MLB would help mitigate any prosecution.

Stay tuned. We certainly haven't heard the end of this.

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Ryan Braun donating ~$60,000 to give Brewers fans discounted tickets

When the Milwaukee Brewers began their "Brewers Win, You Win" promotion at the beginning of the month, I don't think the marketing folks figured the club would win so few games.

Feeling confident after finishing the month of April by winning 12 of 15, the Brewers launched a campaign that would knock a dollar off the price of Terrace Box seats for the June 3-5 series against the Athletics with every game that the Brewers won in the month of May. Unfortunately, Milwaukee has won just five games since the promotion started.

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VIDEO: One On One With Ryan Braun

WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

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Ryan Braun, Aaron Rodgers opening Bayshore restaurant

8-Twelve MVP Bar and Grill, a restaurant associated with athletes Ryan Braun and Aaron Rodgers, will open its second location at Glendale's Bayshore Town Center.

The new 8-Twelve will be located in the space now leased to COA, a locally owned Mexican restaurant which Marc and Marta Bianchini opened in 2009. COA closes June 30, and 8-Twelve is expected to open in the fourth quarter, said David Moss, Bayshore general manager.

8-Twelve opened its first location last July in Brookfield. Its name comes from the jersey numbers for Braun, leftfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, and Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. The restaurant is operated by SURG Restaurant Group, which is owned by Mike Polaski and Omar Shaikh and has a licensing agreement with Braun and Rodgers.

Much of 8-Twelve's produce, beef and pork is provided by Polaski's Hidden Creek Farm, in New London, as well as other Wisconsin farms.

8-Twelve's Bayshore location will feature private dining rooms, as well as a large dining room and spacious bar area.

The Brookfield 8-Twelve, 17800 W. Blue Mound Road, made Journal Sentinel dining critic Carol Deptolla's list of 2012's best new restaurants.

On the Bayshore lease, Surg and 8-Twelve MVP were represented by brokers Steve Palec and Michael Levine of Cresa.

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Ryan Braun doubles twice among three hits vs. Bucs

Ryan Braun went 3-for-6 with two doubles as the Brewers lost to the Pirates in extra innings on Tuesday.

Braun sat out Monday's game with neck tightness, an issue that has plagued him off and on through the early part of the season, but he was back in the lineup producing on Tuesday. The neck issue is something he may continue to deal with as the season progresses, but he's been able to play through it for the most part thus far. It's something to monitor, but it's no reason to downgrade Braun for the time being.

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Ryan Braun dealing with neck issue again

Pittsburgh -- Ryan Braun is out of the lineup tonight with a stiff neck as the Milwaukee Brewers open a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Manager Ron Roenicke had hinted over the weekend in Cincinnati that Braun would probably need a game off to recuperate a bit, and Monday wound up being the day.

The timing certainly isn't great, as the Brewers have lost four straight games and nine of 10 and Braun is a career .429 hitter against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett (6 for 14), but the neck has gotten to the point where it needs to be addressed.

"I don’t want him out of there," Roenicke said. "But physically he’s been fighting the neck issue. He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to play the games in Cincinnati. Somewhere, whether it was yesterday or today, he needs a day.

"It’s different when you’re playing well and things are going good. But we need him, and he does hit Burnett well."

Roenicke said that as far as he knew, Braun didn't aggravate his neck while playing.

"Wasn’t a swing," he said. "I don’t know if it was sleeping. But he woke up with it stiffer again and fought pretty good for a couple days. Maybe getting a little bit better from it, but we want to get rid of it and make sure we get the guy back in the No. 3 slot that we need to have."

Braun missed an entite three-game series against Arizona at Miller Park earlier in the season with neck spasms, and the Brewers wound up being swept. Roenicke indicated this latest bout of pain isn't serious enough to keep Braun out multiple games, however.

"I don’t think it is," he said. "At that point he couldn’t turn his head."

Braun will be available to pinch hit tonight if need be.

"He thought he was going to be OK to pinch hit," said Roenicke. "I told him I’ll give him plenty of warning. But he said I could use him."

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Ryan Braun supports NBA player Collins coming out

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers would welcome a gay player in the clubhouse, Ryan Braun said Monday on the day that NBA center Jason Collins became the first active professional athlete to come out.

"Absolutely, I would hope so," Braun said. "I know I would be. I think everybody else would be, as well."

Braun said it was great that Collins decided to be open about his sexual orientation.

"For all of us as athletes, we should all be tolerant," he said. "Not only tolerant but accepting. I think it's a great thing. I think everybody should be encouraged to be comfortable and confident in who they are, and I think hopefully it's the first step in the right direction for anybody that's going through some of the same things that he went through.

"It's definitely a step in a positive direction I think for all athletes and hopefully for society in general."

Braun said he was surprised it took until 2013 for an active player to announce he was gay.

"I understand the challenges associated with being the first person to come out who is actively playing," he said. "I'm sure the numbers would suggest there have been plenty of professional athletes who have been gay who hadn't come out.

"So I guess I'm a little surprised it's taken this long, but at the same time, it's obviously a complicated situation, a complicated issue," he said. "The timing needed to be right for somebody to be confident enough to come out and be the first one to make that statement."

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Ryan Braun's claim that Anthony Bosch was only a consultant is backed up by the Miami clinic owner

Ryan Braun has another supporter in his quest to prove he did not buy performance-enhancing drugs from the scandal-ridden Biogenesis clinic —owner Anthony Bosch himself.

In his first public comments since reports surfaced in January that Major League Baseball was looking into whether Bosch had provided PEDs to players, including Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and other stars, Bosch backed up Braun’s claim that his name appeared on a Biogenesis ledger only because his lawyers used Bosch as an expert witness in Braun’s successful 2012 appeal of a 50-game drug suspension handed down by MLB in 2011.

“I just answered a few questions from his legal team, not from Braun or any other ballplayer,” Bosch said in an interview reported by ESPN Monday night.

Braun adamantly denied having gotten drugs from Bosch after Yahoo! Sports reported that Braun’s name had appeared on a Biogenesis document indicating that the Milwaukee Brewers left fielder owed $20,000-$30,000 to Bosch, saying that during the course of his appeal, his attorneys, who were previously familiar with Bosch, used him as a consultant.

“More specifically, he answered questions about T/E ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples,” Braun said. “There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under ‘moneys owed’ and not on any other list. I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch. I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”

ESPN also reported that Braun’s name had appeared on a list, but described it as a list of players who received PEDs from the clinic or Bosch, a report strongly refuted by Braun’s lawyers.

Bosch also told ESPN that he knows nothing about performance-enhancing drugs and disputed media accounts of his alleged dealings.

“I have been accused, tried and convicted in the media. And so I think have been falsely accused throughout the media,” Bosch said. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

The Daily News first reported on Jan. 26 that MLB was investigating Bosch’s possible dealings with PEDS and his links to A-Rod. The Miami New Times and other media outlets then began reporting on documents that listed the names of players alongside drug notations and amounts owed.

Bosch is the subject of a lawsuit by MLB for tortious interference with its contracts with players, but said he had not been contacted by baseball officials, a claim MLB strongly disputes, saying it has repeatedly tried to contact Bosch to interview him and, most recently, to serve him with legal papers.

MLB has scheduled a deposition next month for a doctor whose name investigators believe Bosch may have forged on prescription forms.

Coral Gables anti-aging specialist Daniel Carpman told the Daily News last week that he is scheduled to be deposed on May 17 by MLB lawyers.

That deposition might be much more helpful to MLB’s investigators than Bosch himself appears to be.

“If you are going to ask me about baseball players,” he told ESPN, “I have no comment on any baseball players or anybody else associated with baseball players.”

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Ryan Braun Hits His 6th HR

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt gave Kyle Lohse all the support he needed before throwing a pitch. The right-hander didn’t get to finish his impressive outing either.

Lohse injured his left pinkie during an at-bat in the sixth inning of the Milwaukee Brewers’ 7-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Monday night for their eighth straight win. Braun hit a two-run home run and Betancourt had a three-run shot, both off Jason Marquis in the top of the first.

The homer for Braun was his sixth of the season. He also had an RBI single in the fifth and has 19 RBIs.

In his last visit to Petco Park, Braun became the first player to hit three home runs in one game at the ballpark. He also had a triple in his last at-bat here on April 30, 2012. He has five homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games at Petco.

“I just enjoy coming back to the West Coast,” Braun said. “It’s always rejuvenating for me. Obviously (Petco Park) is still a challenging ballpark to hit but I’ve enjoyed hitting here throughout the course of my career, and as a team I think we’ve enjoyed getting a chance to come here and play.”

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Ryan Braun hits third homer, Brewers down Giants

Ryan Braun slugged his third home run of the season on Thursday as the Brewers defeated the Giants.

The first-inning home run snapped a mini slump for Braun. He boasts a cool .275/.396/.575 batting line, three home runs and 10 RBI through 11 games this season. The 29-year-old should again challenge for the NL MVP.

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Ryan Braun's neck 'still bothering him some'

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that Ryan Braun's neck is "still bothering him some."

Braun has played the last four games after missing three contests with a neck ailment, but he's gone 0-for-7 while striking out six times over the last two days against the Cardinals. "(Braun's) neck is still bothering him some," Roenicke said. "He's not 100%. You can see some of his swings aren't his usual self." At this point, it doesn't appear that the disabled list is under consideration for the outfielder, but things might be different if the Brewers weren't already so undermanned.

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Ryan Braun loves Wrigley

By going 3 for 4 Monday, Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun raised his batting average at Wrigley Field to .381 (72 for 189). Only Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen has a higher average (.386) there among active players.

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Ryan Braun getting better, but still hurting

Ryan Braun is out of the Milwaukee Brewers' lineup for the third consecutive game today as he continues to deal with neck spasms.

Manager Ron Roenicke seemingly left the door open for a possible pinch-hitting appearance today if Braun's neck stays loose and the situation calls for it, and Braun is definitely anxious to get back onto the field in some form.

"As soon as I’m able to get to a point where I have a chance to contribute and play, I’ll be playing," Braun said. "It’s a little bit better today than it was yesterday, which is a good thing.

"I feel like I’ve been out a week and it’s been less than 48 hours since I did it. So hopefully it gets better sooner rather than later."

There's never a good time for an all-star caliber player like Braun to be injured, but at this point especially the Brewers really can't afford to be missing him.

They're off to a 1-4 start, cleaup hitter Aramis Ramirez just went on the disabled list with a sprained left knee and a six-game road trip to Chicago and St. Louis opens on Monday.

Without his No. 3 and 4 hitters, Roenicke has had to get creative the past few days with his lineup.

"Went through a few," Roenicke said, referring to lineup combinations.

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Ryan Braun to get awards Saturday

The Brewers announced Thursday that prior to the game Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Par, an on-field, pre-game ceremony will be held to present Ryan Braun with his 2012 Silver Slugger Award. 

Fans are encouraged to be inside Miller Park for the ceremony, which will begin at approximately 6 p.m. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin will present the award.

In addition, Braun will be presented the 2012 Josh Gibson Legacy Award by Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. The award is given annually to the home run leaders of both the National League and American League. Braun led the NL with 41 home runs last season.

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Ryan Braun continues to own Colorado SP

Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run Tuesday, April 2, against the Colorado Rockies.

Fantasy Tip: Braun was 1-for-2 against Rockies SP Jorge De La Rosa, bumping his career numbers to 8-for-11 with two homers and three doubles. File that away if you play daily fantasy games for the next time the Brewers face the Rockies and De La Rosa.

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Ryan Braun has caused MLB to switch to glass pee containers in drug testing

One may worry about the impact of all of the drug allegations to the legacy of Ryan Braun, but in one respect his legacy is secure: he’s the guy who killed plastic pee containers in MLB drug testing. Andy Martino reports:

According to two major league sources, MLB quietly switched from plastic to glass containers for urine samples in 2012, a direct result of Braun’s victory on grounds that the collection process was flawed.  Before the Braun case, players gave the urine sample in a triple-sealed plastic container … The bottles have a locking mechanism on the top, as opposed to tamper-proof stickers on the plastic version. The only way to open the glass bottles is to smash the top with a hammer, which the lab does in what a person familiar with the process described as a “controlled manner.”

We have a new front-runner for “worst job on the planet.”

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Ryan Braun proves he's ready to play

PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun said he is game-ready earlier than ever in spring training, then went out and proved it.

Braun socked a home run in his first at-bat Saturday as the Milwaukee Brewers held on for a 2-1 victory over Oakland in their Cactus League opener at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Because he will be leaving in a week to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, Braun accelerated his pre-camp workouts and plans to get more at-bats than usual in the interim.

"I think I'm definitely ahead of where I am normally this time of year," said Braun. "I started my baseball stuff a lot earlier, so I feel pretty good."

Braun looked quite comfortable at the plate in the bottom of the first inning when he drove a pitch from Oakland right-hander Jesse Chavez out to right-center. He walked in his next at-bat before exiting from the game.

"Certainly, it's a good sign," said Braun. "I'd much rather homer than strike out, especially staying through the middle and hitting the ball the other way. When I'm going my best, that's what I do pretty well.

"There's nothing I didn't like about it. It was a homer. Homers are cool. I always like homers."

Ron Roenicke has watched some remarkable offensive exploits from Braun in his two seasons as Brewers manager but nevertheless shook his head at the first at-bat home run.

"It's pretty amazing," said Roenicke. "With two strikes, he can do that. An amazing player. He just doesn't need as much as everybody else to get going. He's gifted to where he can do things other players can't do."

Braun said he would play back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday, the earliest he ever has played consecutive contests in exhibition play. He knows he'll be counted upon to play nine innings right away when Team USA begins play in the WBC on March 8.

"We'll have the luxury of three practices and two (exhibition games) prior to the WBC games," said Braun. "It's certainly more than I usually do but nothing drastic.

"I'll be ready. Those games are fun. You get out there and you're wearing a USA jersey. Just the intensity of those games, I think I'll be prepared regardless of how many innings or at-bats I get here."

The Brewers scored their other run on an RBI groundout by Jean Segura in the fourth inning, then let their pitchers take it from there. Eight pitchers limited the A's to five hits, with only Santo Manzanillo surrendering a run.

The last two innings were covered nicely by Michael Olmsted (two strikeouts) and Jesus Sanchez (one), neither of whom allowed a hit.

"Olmsted, man, that's a nice arm," said Roenicke. "I really like (Sanchez's) arm. He's very compact, short (with his delivery). The ball kind of jumps on you. I like what he does."

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MLB denies that Ryan Braun is target of investigation

Scottsdale, Ariz. - Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred denied that MLB has targeted Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun specifically in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, as suggested by a USA Today article.

"Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor," Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

The USA Today article Wednesday labeled Braun as "MLB's Public Enemy No. 1" in its investigation of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic alleged to have sold performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players.

Braun's name was among many baseball players listed on the log books of clinic operator Tony Bosch. Braun explained that his defense team enlisted Bosch's services as a consultant in their appeal of a positive drug test for elevated testosterone levels in the winter of 2011-'12.

Monetary figures were posted in those logs next to Braun's name, which his attorneys said represented a dispute over fees owed to Bosch for his consulting. Lead attorney David Cornwell later said Bosch's input was not helpful in the successful appeal of Braun's positive test.

After Shyam Das ruled in Braun's favor on a chain-of-custody issue, MLB fired Das as its independent arbitrator. MLB's anger over that ruling fueled its pursuit of Braun, according to the USA Today article.

After that report surfaced by the Miami New Times, Braun met with reporters and said he would take no questions about the Biogenesis connection but said he would cooperate fully with MLB's investigation. A major-league source said all players listed in the logbook would be interviewed.

MLB suspended minor-league pitcher Cesar Carrillo for 100 games - 50 for having his name in the Biogenesis logs and 50 for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Carrillo, a former teammate of Braun's at the University of Miami, was not on a major-league 40-man roster and therefore not protected by the union from sanctions.

Major leaguers who don't cooperate could be subject to punishment, which likely would be appealed by the players union. The Miami New Times refused to turn over its Biogenesis documents to MLB, which does not have subpoena power.

In the USA Today article, which said MLB wants Braun "badly," he said, "I'm extremely confident and secure in who I am, and how I live my life. I will never allow anyone or anything to get me down or change that.

"I've always tried to do everything right in life and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. You get to the point where you almost don't care what people think. But anybody that knows me and who has ever known me knows who I am. They know the way I live my life. They know I'm a good person."

Approached Wednesday morning in the Brewers' spring camp about the USA Today article, Braun said, "Anything I have to say about that I've already said."

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Ryan Braun is trying to win back fans at World Baseball Classic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ryan Braun understands why many people are skeptical of him, given the way his name has twice been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

He refuses to let it bother him.

On a sun-splashed field in Arizona, the Brewers slugger said that getting back to spring training has helped him deal with the swirling controversy, and that playing for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic could help to convince some fans to give him a clean slate.

“Obviously, there’s been a lot of things I’ve dealt with over the last year and a half,” he said, “but I’m just trying to focus on the things I can control.”

After his MVP season in 2011, Braun tested positive for steroids during the playoffs. But he fought the case and eventually had his 50-game suspension overturned by an arbiter who discovered chain-of-custody issues in the handling of Braun’s test sample.

Then this past off-season, Braun’s name surfaced in records from the now-defunct Biogenesis of America LLC clinic that allegedly provided substances to several players.

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Ryan Braun Knee Is Non-Issue

Update: Braun is not expected to miss any of the World Baseball Classic, despite bruising his knee recently, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Recommendation: Apparently, Braun is dealing with some pain after fouling a ball off his knee, but this should clear up completely by Opening Day. As for the WBC, Team USA does not play until March 8, which should give Braun plenty of time to return.

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Ryan Braun aims to help Team USA win Classic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Baseball was invented in the United States, but the World Baseball Classic has been dominated by Japan.

U.S. manager Joe Torre has taken a different approach in the WBC's third edition this year. Rather than stock his entire roster with high-profile stars, he's got a basic starting nine with utility players, three catchers and 15 pitchers filling out the 28-man group.

"I think it's advantageous. I think you need role players," said Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, who was part of the 2009 team that made it to the semifinals. "You look at regular teams throughout the course of the season, those role players are instrumental in teams finding a way to win games. It's certainly important to have versatility."

The Americans went through their only pre-tournament workout Monday, a light, two-hour session at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of Arizona and Colorado.

They have exhibition against the Chicago White Sox and Rockies before their opener Friday against Mexico at Chase Field, which could draw an enthusiastic and not necessarily pro-U.S. crowd.

Although the team includes Braun, New York Mets third baseman David Wright and New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Torre chose only one player at each infield position.

Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins is at shortstop and Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips will play second. Their backups are Arizona's Willie Bloomquist and Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist with Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer expected to fill in some at first base as well as a designated hitter. The outfielders are Braun, Baltimore's Adam Jones and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton of Miami, with Boston's Shane Victorino another option.

The other catchers are Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy and Toronto's J.P. Arencibia, who gets to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey — his new teammate on the Blue Jays — in Friday night's opener.

Under pitch-count rules, starters can't throw more than 65 pitches in opening round games.

The Americans' group also includes Canada and Italy. After round-robin play concludes with the Canada-U.S. game on Sunday, the top two nations advance to the second round in Florida. The semifinals and finals will be held the following week in San Francisco.

Texiera called the competition "an exhibition."

"While we want to win. The important thing is to put on a great tournament for everyone to enjoy it, for the fans to enjoy it," he said. "It doesn't mean we don't want to win it."

Japan has won the first two WBC titles. While American fans may not be watching intensely, Braun said players should expect heated competition.

"It's certainly challenging," he said. "I know the last time I played just the atmosphere, the environment, felt like the intensity of a playoff game."

Torre, an MLB executive vice president, wouldn't announce starting pitchers other than Dickey, although he pointed out Texas' Derek Holland is starting Tuesday's exhibition against the White Sox. That puts Holland in line to start Sunday.

Wright said that players went through their offseason preparation with the knowledge they would need to be in shape for the WBC.

"The four or five games I've been in, I've tried to play into the sixth or seventh inning each time," he said. "Just kind of speeding up the process, playing a few more innings earlier in the spring than I normally would and obviously getting those extra at-bats is important to get ready."

Several players mentioned their motivation is to become the first U.S. squad to gain the title.

"We're all here to win it, and we all have gotten ourselves to the point where we can go out there as if it's Game 7 of the World Series," Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel said. "We're out there to win. We're going to put it all on the line. That's what we're here to do. We're not here to show up and just play and say we played for Team USA. We're here to say 'We played for Team USA and we won.' I had that feeling in the clubhouse that that's what we're all here to do."

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Ryan Braun homers in first at-bat, calls it 'cool'

PHOENIX (AP) — Ryan Braun quickly got into the swing of spring.

The Milwaukee slugger homered in his first at-bat of the exhibition season and the Brewers beat the Oakland Athletics 2-1 Saturday.

"There was nothing I didn't like about it," Braun said. "It was a home run. Homers are cool. I love home runs. I think I'm definitely ahead of where I usually am this time of year."

Braun hit only two home runs during spring training last year. He played just in home games for the first week to ease his exposure after he became the only major leaguer to have a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs reversed.

Braun's name surfaced again in late January in connection with a Miami anti-aging clinic that reportedly provided PEDs to professional athletes. Braun has denied using PEDs.

"He's really good upstairs," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's able to handle a lot of different situations really well."

The 2011 NL MVP hit .319 with a league-leading 41 home runs, 112 RBIs and 30 stolen bases last year.

Braun will soon be leaving the club to prepare for the World Baseball Classic with Team USA. He hit a solo shot over the center-field fence with two outs in the first inning off Jesse Chavez.

"That's pretty amazing, that with two strikes you could do that," Roenicke said. "He's an amazing player and I just don't think he needs as much work as everybody else to get ready. He's gifted."

Braun has accelerated his spring regimen to prepare for the WBC, where he's set to start in left field. With only four outfielders on the roster, he's already been told by the team's coaching staff to expect to play nine full innings in each of the team's first three games.

"I'll be ready," Braun said. "Those games are fun. You put on a USA jersey, the intensity ramps up and it's a lot of fun."

Milwaukee starter Mike Fiers allowed a hit and two walks in two scoreless innings and struck out two.

Oakland shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima made his debut after signing a two-year, $6.5 million contract.

"The environment and the ambiance were fabulous," the 30-year-old Nakajima said through an interpreter. "It pumped me up. I was very excited."

Nakajima walked and popped out. He also was the pivot on a double play started when second baseman Jemile Weeks made a backhanded stab of a short hop as he fell to his knees.

"I knew Weeks was going to get to the ball," Nakajima said. "The rest was how he was going to flip the ball to me."

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Distractions don’t affect Ryan Braun’s game

Phoenix - Off the field, Ryan Braun has been a magnet for controversy the past year and a half. On the field, he has never performed better.

How does he do it? How does the Milwaukee Brewers' all-star leftfielder block out the increasing array of distractions created by links to the world of performance-enhancing drugs?

"The guys with the makeup that can put things aside are a special breed," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who has marveled at Braun's ability to insulate himself from the outside world when he steps between the white lines.

"I think he can overcome some things that mentally some other guys are not able to do. They are going to perform better because they can do that."

For his first five seasons in the major leagues, Braun carefully polished a squeaky clean image as one of the game's rising stars. He was one of the most popular players in the game, earning a starting spot on the National League all-star team four consecutive years in balloting by fans.

Then came the stunning news in December 2011 that Braun had tested positive for an extremely high level of testosterone just days after putting the wraps on an MVP season in which he batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 runs batted in, 109 runs scored and 30 stolen bases.

The Major League Baseball drug program is designed to be confidential, but the test result was leaked to the media and Braun's saga played out publicly, including his appeal of a pending 50-game suspension. Even when Braun's defense team had the test result overturned, he received little benefit of the doubt because MLB officials made it clear they believed he escaped merely through a chain-of-custody technicality, going as far as firing arbitrator Shyam Das for his ruling.

Under intense scrutiny to see if he could continue his high level of performance in 2012, Braun quieted critics with another big season. He batted .319 with a league-high 41 home runs, 112 RBI, 108 runs scored and 30 stolen bases, finishing second to San Francisco's Buster Posey in the MVP balloting.

"I've always said through adversity you determine somebody's character," said Braun, 29. "It's really easy to do well when things are going well. When you face adversity, that's when you see what you're made of.

"Ultimately, my job is to be the best baseball player I can be and try to help my team win games. That's what I did last year and that's what I'll continue to do. I've always been positive and optimistic and I never allow outside distractions or negativity to affect that.

"Certainly, it was challenging. But the goal every year is to be productive. The challenge in this game is consistency and longevity. Certainly, last year I dealt with some challenges and adversity. It was rewarding for sure."

But the adversity was not over. Shortly before the start of spring training, Yahoo Sports reported that Braun's name was in the log books of the Biogenesis clinic outside of Miami, a facility linked to selling performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players. Braun reported to the Brewers' camp with that cloud over his head, again claiming his innocence but declining to answer questions on the subject from reporters.

Next came an ESPN report with Braun's name appearing in more logs of clinic operator Tony Bosch, supposedly linking him to PEDs but proving nothing. As MLB continues its investigation of that clinic and its ties to baseball players, Braun has continued his daily routine in camp as if nothing is amiss.

One of the game's elite offensive players, Braun nevertheless has absorbed significant damage to his image, especially outside of Milwaukee. Skeptics note he says he has nothing to hide but won't answer questions. Braun has not provided evidence of his claim that his attorneys used Bosch merely as a consultant.

And so it goes. To this point, Braun has been proven guilty of nothing. And he well could survive this latest round of circumstantial evidence and innuendoes. If it goes the other way, he will have some explaining to do and the Brewers will have to grit their teeth and continue forward with their star player signed through 2020 at more than $100 million.

Meanwhile, Roenicke has every reason to expect another big year from Braun, no matter how many barbs and arrows are flung his way.

"I know what happened after the (appeal) decision when we went to different ballparks," said Roenicke, referring to the constant booing Braun heard from fans.

"The thing that was impressive was the way he played last year he had the same year, was second in MVP. Could have been MVP."

Entering what should be the prime years of his career, Braun figures to build upon an amazing offensive legacy. A finalist for a Gold Glove the last two seasons, he also has evolved into a solid leftfielder after struggling through an error-filled, rookie-of-the-year season at third base in 2007.

"I actually wanted to go back to shortstop. I still want to go back to shortstop," said Braun, who played that position until being moved to third base at the University of Miami. "I was good at short. Third base was never for me.

"I knew (the position change) was going to be challenging; I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I feel like I've made strides; I continue to get better. I was confident that I would become an above-average defender. I think I'm well on my way to getting there.

"Certainly, there's room for improvement. I work at it every day. The goal is to have my defense catch up to my offense."

Anything seems possible when Braun steps between those white lines. Instead of remaining in a protective cocoon in Brewers camp while the Biogenesis controversy swirls around him, he remains committed to playing in the international spotlight of the World Baseball Classic for Team USA.

"He's got a really strong mind," said Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez. "Once the game starts, he really focuses just on the game. That's his own world right there.

"You've got to approach it that way - just go out and play the game and don't worry about anything else. He can't control what the fans think of him or if they boo or cheer. The only thing he can control is his game. He's one of the best at that."

5 Consecutive seasons in which Ryan Braun has driven in more than 100 runs.
1,089 Hits for Braun in 883 games in the major leagues.
12 Errors for Braun in five seasons since moving from third base to left field.
3 Home runs in a game for Braun last April 30 in San Diego (first player to do so there).
202 Career homers for Braun, already fifth on Brewers' all-time list.

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Ryan Braun stands on previous statement about drug clinic

Phoenix - Ryan Braun reported to the Brewers' spring camp Friday and made it clear immediately that he would answer no questions about the report linking him to a Miami clinic alleged to have provided performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players.

"I'm excited to be back out here for spring training; certainly looking forward to the World Baseball Classic," Braun said in opening comments to a group of reporters. "I'm obviously excited and focused on our upcoming Brewers season.

"I understand why a lot of you guys are probably here but I made a statement last week. I stand behind that statement. I'm not going to address that issue any further. As I stated, I'm happy to cooperate fully with any investigation into this matter. I respect the fact that all of you guys have a job to do. Part of that job includes asking me questions. I'm happy to answer any and all questions about baseball, spring training, the World Baseball Classic or anything else."

A Yahoo Sports report last week revealed that Braun's name was listed three times in the ledgers of the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic under operator Tony Bosch. Unlike previous players named, including Alex Rodriguez, there were no PEDs listed next to Braun's name. There was the dennotation "20 K - 30 K" which supposedly meant Braun owed $20,000 to $30,000 to Bosch.

Braun quickly issued an explanation for his name being in the logs of that controversial clinic. He said his attorneys used Bosch as a consultant while preparing their defense of his positive drug test the previous year. Braun tested positive for a high level of testosterone but appealed that finding and had a looming 50-game suspension overturned by arbitrator Shyam Das over irregularities in the shipping of his urine sample.

Braun said there was a dispute over the payment to Bosch and thus the $20,000 to $30,000 listing in "moneys owed" to Bosch. He said he had nothing to hide and would cooperate fully with any investigation being conducted by MLB. That investigation is ongoing and Braun's representatives declined a request by the Journal Sentinel to provide corroboration of the consulting relationship with Braun.

Braun obviously was not going to provide any additional information so it is up to the Major League Baseball investigation to determine if Braun's explanation was complete.

Braun was asked about the support of manager Ron Roenicke, who told reporters two days ago that he didn't think the report should have targeted Braun without evidence of why his name was in the clinic's logs.

"Absolutely, I appreciate everybody's support," said Braun. "In life, when you deal with challenges, you see who supports you and who has your back. He certainly has been extremely supportive and for that I am very thankful."

Braun was asked about following up his tumultous winter of 2011 with another huge season in 2012 despite being under scrutiny to see how he would perform.
"In baseball, you deal with adversity; in life you deal with adversity," he said. "I've always said through adversity you determine someone's character. It's really easy to do well when things are going well. When you deal with adversity, that's when you see what you're made of. You see what your character is.

"I try to stay focused on the task at hand. Ultimately, my job is to be the best baseball player I can be, help my team try to win games. That's what I did last year and that's what I will continue to do."

Asked about the satisfaction he had to produce another big season, Braun said, "Certainly, it was challenging for sure. But the goal every year is to be productive. I've always said the challenge in this game is consistency and longevity. So the goal is to be as good as possible every year.
"Certainly, last year I dealt with some added challenges and adversity. So, it was rewarding for sure."

Braun heard much booing on the road last year from fans not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt after his drug appeal and I asked him if he expected it to be any different this year.

"I don't think about those things," he said. "I don't think about things that are out of my control. I only focus on the things I have control of."

Braun was asked one follow-up question about PEDs. He was asked about MLB expanding its testing for human growth hormone to include the regular season after previously doing so only once during spring training.

"I've always been supportive of the system," said Braun. "I've always been supportive of additional drug testing or whatever testing they have that's available."

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Answers unlikely to come when Ryan Braun reports Friday

Phoenix - Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun is scheduled to report to spring training Friday, and he has already sent notice to the team's media relations department that he will not answer questions pertaining to Yahoo Sports' report linking him to a Miami clinic that is alleged to have sold performance-enhancing drugs to several baseball players.

The story broke Feb. 5, and Braun's only reaction has been a statement released by his public-relations firm that same day. In the statement, Braun explained that his lawyers had contacted the clinic while doing research to aid in his successful appeal of a 2011 positive test.

Manager Ron Roenicke, meanwhile, is taking a wait-and-see approach. Major League Baseball is investigating the clinic and those listed in the report.

"Right now, to be honest with you, I'm not even thinking about handling it or anything," Roenicke said. "Until there's more information on what is there, I can't make any comments on things I know nothing about.

"I've talked to Ryan. He's coming in, and I know he's going to have to deal with some press issues. But we're just going to move on with it as if nothing's there."

Last year, the first 10 days of spring training were a major distraction for the team as Braun reported while he was appealing a 50-game suspension for a positive test for elevated testosterone that occurred in October 2011.

Braun ultimately won his appeal, setting the stage for a memorable day-after news conference held on the field at Maryvale by the 2011 National League MVP.
This year, nobody really knows what to expect.

"It was different last year," Roenicke said. "We knew what the specifics were last year. I knew what to address, what I wasn't supposed to talk about. I knew where he was on those issues. I don't know anything (this time).

"We'll see where we are. It may be nothing. If it's the thing with the lawyer and payments, then it's nothing."

Roenicke left no doubt about the fact he has an issue with Braun's name being mentioned in the Yahoo Sports report when the newspaper that originally broke the story about the clinic, the Miami New Times, didn't mention Braun because it couldn't verify he was linked to anything illicit.

"I've had this pet peeve: Don't bring up anybody's name and put it in there if you're questioning it," he said. "If there's something going on and it's definite, fine. That's your job to put it out there. But don't bring up names you're not sure of and then retract it later, because it never is retracted from the fans or the people who are out there. Never.

"There will be some people that will say, 'OK.' But the majority, it's still there in their minds. It shouldn't be out there. That's what I have an issue with. It's very unfair to a player."

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Ryan Braun struggles to maintain credibility amid PED rumors

As Yogi Berra would say, it's déjà vu all over again.

For the second consecutive year, Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun reports to spring training this week dogged by questions about performance-enhancing drugs.

The circumstances are quite different from one year ago, when news was leaked of Braun's positive drug test for an unusually high level of synthetic testosterone. An arbitration panel later overturned a 50-game suspension, which would have begun on opening day.

This time, the all-star's name surfaced on the logs of a Miami anti-aging clinic linked to supplying baseball players with PEDs. Braun quickly issued a statement saying his attorneys merely used clinic operator Anthony Bosch as a consultant in their defense planning for the 2012 arbitration hearing.

But in the court of public opinion, the damage was done. Across social media platforms, Braun has been blasted by baseball fans who don't yet have the facts but subscribe to the theory that where there's smoke, there's fire.

Jonathan Norman, senior director of client strategy for GMR Marketing of New Berlin, understands the rush to judgment on Braun but cautions fans to sit back, take a deep breath and wait for the facts to come out.

"What I would say is social media has taken the news cycle from days to minutes and seconds," Norman said. "The court of public opinion is much like a drive-through restaurant instead of a sit-down meal.

"People are quick to form their own judgments because of the way we're sharing this information. You're expected to not only form an opinion but to share it."
When it comes to PEDs, athletes no longer receive the benefit of the doubt. Too many have made strong denials that later were revealed as lies. Exhibit A is cyclist Lance Armstrong, whose years of deceit and manipulation were exposed as the workings of an arrogant con artist.

Fair or not, it's natural for some fans to jump to conclusions when it comes to Braun.

"I think it's sort of like playing roulette," Norman said. "To assume that because it hit red last time it's going to hit black this time, that's false logic. We're in a time when PEDs are in the public conversation and it's easy to make a reach, especially when all the facts are not known."

Even noted sportscaster Bob Costas has weighed in, questioning why Braun's defense team would use Bosch as a consultant and saying that "we all know (Braun) got off on a technicality (in 2012)."

Arbitrator Shyam Das cast the deciding vote on what became a chain-of-custody issue after Braun's urine sample was taken for a drug test in October 2011. Das later was fired by Major League Baseball, which clearly was unhappy with the panel's finding.

"People say (Braun) got off on a technicality," said David Leigh, a clinical assistant professor in exercise science at Marquette University and an expert in the field of testing athletes for PEDs. "I would not say that. I would say MLB's drug-testing protocol was flawed."

But even Leigh, who has been an athlete representative at the Goodwill Games and Pan American Games, wonders why Braun's legal team would use Bosch as a consultant.

"I would think I'd want to go to a (doctor) or a researcher in the field of drug testing vs. a guy who is running a lab in Miami that doesn't have credentials," Leigh said. "Was it just advice? OK, fine. Again, I would say you should go to somebody else for advice."

Braun opened spring training last year by making an impassioned 30-minute speech during a news conference in which he fought to save his reputation and integrity. Defiant but eloquent, he claimed he was the "victim of a process that completely broke down and failed."

Playing with a chip on his shoulder and often to jeering and catcalls from opposing teams' fans, Braun led the National League in homers (41), total bases (356) and runs (108) while batting .319, driving in 112 runs and stealing 30 bases.

This year, the circumstances are different.

Braun's name was in the ledgers of Biogenesis, the Miami clinic linked to supplying baseball players with performance-enhancing drugs. Yahoo Sports reported the ledger indicated a payment due of $20,000 to $30,000, but Braun said in his statement that there was a dispute with Bosch about the fee and that's why his name and the monetary figure were listed.

Norman said Braun was smart to issue his statement quickly after the Yahoo Sports report broke.

"I think Ryan did the right thing by issuing the press release and his comments on the case," Norman said. "My best recommendation is to get him on the field and let the process play out.

"Major League Baseball has announced that they are conducting their due diligence through the investigation."

As for Braun's guilt or innocence regarding PEDs and the veracity of his statement, Leigh said "it would not surprise me either way."

"Again, is his name on a list because he was a University of Miami athlete?" Leigh said. "Let MLB do the investigation. His name was on a list? Well, so what? Do we have other positive tests? No, we don't. With Lance Armstrong they found positive tests going way back."

As for Braun defending himself against an onslaught of criticism in social media, Norman said there was little the player could do.

"Social media makes it difficult to not have an opinion on these types of issues and topics," he said. "As you know the news cycle has shortened immensely. From a marketing standpoint I believe Ryan has done everything he can."

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Braun Admits Consulting PED Clinic Founder

MIAMI -- Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says he has talked to slugger Ryan Braun about how he was linked to a defunct Florida clinic being probed by Major League Baseball in the sport's latest drug investigation.

Roenicke says Braun is "doing good," and added that he knows the 2011 NL MVP again will have to deal with some scrutiny.

Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the 2011 postseason. Baseball suspended him for 50 games, a sanction that was overturned in spring training last year after an arbitrator ruled in Braun's favor due to chain of custody issues involving the sample.

Braun has acknowledged a business relationship with Anthony Bosch, saying he consulted with the founder of the Miami-based anti-aging clinic only to strengthen his appeal of the 2011 positive test result.

Braun released a statement last Tuesday in response to a report by Yahoo! Sports, which said the outfielder's name is listed in records obtained from Biogenesis of America LLC, the clinic that allegedly provided PEDs to several high-profile baseball players.

"During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant," Braun said in his statement. "More specifically, he answered questions about T/E ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples."

The T/E ratio is a comparison of the levels of testosterone to epitestosterone.

Roenicke was speaking Saturday night at Florida International's baseball banquet.

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Ryan Braun, Danny Valencia listed in records of alleged PED clinic

Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun's name is in records of the Miami-area clinic alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a rash of baseball players, and Major League Baseball will investigate the link to the former MVP who tested positive for illegal synthetic testosterone during the 2011 postseason.

Three of the Biogenesis clinic records obtained by Yahoo! Sports show Braun's name. Unlike the players named by the Miami New Times in its report that blew open the Biogenesis case, Braun's name is not listed next to any specific PEDs. Braun said his attorneys retained the clinic's operator, Anthony Bosch, as a consultant during his appeal for the positive test.

"I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch," Braun said. "I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter."

MLB is investigating the Biogenesis clinic and Bosch to determine the breadth of his alleged PED dispersal throughout the sport. The league could pursue punishment through non-analytical positives – evidentiary links to players without positive tests – and one source said it will not limit the potential discipline to those whose names are surfacing for the first time, meaning those who have faced suspensions in the past could again be tried.

Braun is on a list that includes Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Cesar Carrillo, who the New Times reported received PEDs from Bosch. Also on the list are New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Baltimore Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia, who weren't listed near PEDs either. The record matches a document the New Times posted with Braun's name redacted and Cervelli and Valencia's cut off.

"Following my foot injury in March 2011, I consulted with a number of experts, including Biogenesis clinic, for legal ways to aid my rehab and recovery," Cervelli said in a statement. "I purchased supplements that I am certain were not prohibited by MLB.''

In a statement, Valencia denied involvement with the clinic and said he would cooperate with MLB's investigation.

"I am shocked and troubled that my name is in any way connected to this story," Valencia said in the statement. "I have never met or spoken to anyone connected with Biogenesis."

Why Braun's name was sandwiched among three alleged users' was not explained by his statement. He referenced his presence on another document, which lists his name along with "RB 20-30K" – explained by Braun's statement as "a dispute over compensation for Bosch's work." Later in the document are multiple mentions of Chris Lyons, one of Braun's attorneys during the 2011-12 offseason when he fought the positive test. When reached by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday evening, Lyons declined comment. David Cornwell, another of Braun's attorney's, has worked with baseball and football players facing suspensions for PEDs.

"During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant," Braun said. "More specifically, he answered questions about [testosterone-to-epitestosterone] ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples."

The nature of their previous relationship is unclear. Sources questioned why Braun, who retained doctors with intimate knowledge of drug testing as experts in his arbitration case, would use Bosch, who was portrayed by the New Times as a rogue chemist and anti-aging guru who passed himself off as a doctor even though he had no medical degree.

While Braun never contested the findings of the test, which found elevated testosterone levels in his urine, a 50-game suspension was overturned after chain-of-custody issues arose from the test-taker keeping the specimen in his basement over the weekend instead of immediately shipping it to a testing lab. Braun denied use of testosterone publicly.

The early portion of MLB's investigation has focused on the web of connections to the University of Miami, where Braun attended college. Carrillo, a pitcher in the Detroit Tigers organization, was Braun's road roommate for three years. Jimmy Goins, a strength-and-conditioning coach at the school and alleged client of Bosch's, worked with Braun during his three years at Miami. Goins has denied a connection to Bosch.

At least two others implicated by the New Times – Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal – have worked with Goins. Grandal, Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, all listed in Bosch's records, were suspended by MLB after testing positive for testosterone this season. MLB is considering pursuing further discipline against them, particularly if the league can acquire records that tie players to PEDs on different dates than their positive tests.

Two league officials met with New Times editors in Miami on Monday hopeful the newspaper would turn over the documents, which would aid an investigation and potential arbitration hearings if the league were to pursue suspensions. While the newspaper did not give the records to MLB, it is still considering doing so, according to two sources.

Braun's acknowledgement of the documents' veracity could quell speculation, including from some accused players, of the legitimacy of the records.

The third record is a letter from Bosch that appears to be to Juan Nunez, a former runner for the ACES sports agency that represents Cabrera, Cruz and Gonzalez. Though undated, it congratulates "Juan" on "the MVP award" – a possible reference to Cabrera's All-Star Game MVP – and continues: "This smells like the 'Braun' advantage."

Braun's name does not appear in the document on the New Times' website.

The players as well as Bosch issued blanket denials in the aftermath of the New Times report. Rodriguez said in a statement he was never treated by Bosch and "(t)he purported documents referenced in the story – at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez – are not legitimate." Rodriguez also denied an ESPN.com report that Bosch had personally injected him.

In a statement, Gonzalez said: "I've never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances provided by him." Attorneys representing Cruz said: "To the extent these allegations and inferences refer to Nelson, they are denied."

Bosch's attorney said the New Times story was "filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and misstatements of fact."

Braun has eight years and more than $130 million remaining on his current contract. He finished second in NL MVP voting last season after hitting a league-leading 41 home runs.

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Ryan Braun relishing a calm off-season this year

A year ago, Ryan Braun was in limbo.

In the midst of appealing his 50-game drug suspension, the Milwaukee Brewers' leftfielder basically dropped out of sight until the start of spring training.

That meant no media exposure in the weeks and months following his 2011 National League most valuable player award and no appearance at the "Brewers On Deck" event in downtown Milwaukee.

But with all that and a productive 2012 season behind him, Braun returned to the team's annual event Sunday at the Delta Center.

Relaxed and all smiles, Braun not surprisingly said he has been enjoying this off-season much more than his last.

"This is nice," he said during a break. "It's definitely a lot different for me. It's just nice to be able to relax, to have a regular schedule, a regular routine, know exactly what I'm getting myself into. More than anything else, it's far more relaxing."

Braun will head into spring training a little bit ahead of the curve having begun long-tossing in November and hitting in earnest in December, a month earlier than usual.

Much of this early work is to help him get prepared for the World Baseball Classic. Braun, along with Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, is a member of Team USA, which will begin training in Phoenix on March 1. Team USA's first game is March 8 at Chase Field against Mexico, which will have a pair of Brewers starting pitchers in Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada.

Unlike some of the other big American stars who passed on the opportunity to play for Team USA, Braun said he relishes the opportunity.

"First and foremost, it's an honor," he said. "It's a tremendous honor to represent your country. You don't know how many opportunities you'll get to do that - this tournament only happens once every four years, and four years from now who knows - for all of us - what our health situation will be, where we'll be in the game, whether we'll even get an opportunity to be invited.

"For me, I think it was a no-brainer. As long as I was healthy, it was something I was definitely going to do."

Braun was asked about playing alongside Lucroy for Team USA, and got in the zinger of the day.

"It's amazing - I didn't even know Team USA had a bullpen catcher," he said with a grin. "It's really cool to have a teammate. It's going to be really fun for both of us. We've talked about it and we're pretty excited. It's definitely a cool opportunity, and we'll get a chance to play against some of our teammates, too."

As far as the Brewers' chances this year, Braun, like everyone else, is interested in seeing how the team's rotation shakes out. Aside from Gallardo and Estrada, Chris Narveson is attempting to return from rotator-cuff surgery, and youngsters Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta will also be trying to win spots.

"I think the talent is there; it's about going out there and doing it over the course of the season," he said. "We have some guys that are relatively inexperienced (in the rotation) - we don't know exactly what they're going to be able to do. But aside from that, I think we're certainly going to be competitive again.

"And as long as you're competitive, that's all you can ask for."

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Ryan Braun Favors Wauwatosa Artist's Work for Malibu Home

A Wauwatosa artist whose work has been gaining attention for a couple of years now has one really big-league admirer – Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.

Last year, Braun bought four large-format paintings from Anderson to decorate his California home.

On Saturday, he and girlfriend Larisa Fraser stopped in at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee to pay a visit to his favorite painter as she worked with artist in residence Timothy Westbrook in the hotel's art studio.

Braun and Fraser even cast their votes for Anderson to be the next full-time artist in residence at the Pfister.

Anderson's bold style of abstract painting features riots of color on large canvases. She also paints at the Plaid Tuba art studio in Milwaukee's Third Ward.

Anderson said her introduction to Braun, and his to her, began when she was contacted by the interior design firm decorating Braun's original restaurant downtown. They wanted her to curate displays of original artwork for the restaurant, which she did for a year.

When the restaurant changed management and theme, Anderson said, the new managers discontinued the rotating art gallery concept. But in the meantime, Braun had taken notice.

"I met Ryan through that," Anderson said, "and then his manager contacted me said he wanted to arrange a private showing."
Paintings 'pop' in Malibu sunlight

Braun, after signing an eight-year contract extension with the Brewers, bought an oceanfront house in Malibu, Calif., and had been looking for the right artist to set the tone in his new home.

"He said that the California sun is pretty intense, especially coming right off the ocean," Anderson said. "He told me my large, bright, colorful paintings really pop on the wall."

On Saturday, Anderson said, both Braun and Fraser again complimented her on how good her work looks in the home – "which thrilled me," she said.

Anderson is a longtime Wauwatosa resident and former business owner. She opened and ran the Underwood Gallery at 1430 Underwood Ave. for 10 years, selling jewelry, ceramics and fine art pieces from artists near and far and painting at home as a hobby.

Only a few years ago, Anderson decided to take the plunge and make painting her focus. She sold Underwood Gallery and began exhibiting her own work.

It didn't take long, obviously, for her to make her mark. Her paintings soon were selling for thousands of dollars.

Becoming artist to one of baseball's biggest and most charismatic stars will likely elevate Anderson's reputation even more.

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Ryan Braun makes his return to Brewers On Deck

A year ago at this time, Ryan Braun was in limbo.

In the midst of appealing his 50-game suspension for a drug suspension, the Milwaukee Brewers' leftfielder basically dropped out of sight until the open of spring training.

That meant no media junkets in the weeks and months following his 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award, and no appearance at the Brewers On Deck event in downtown Milwaukee.

But with all that behind him, and an even better 2012 season under his belt, Braun made his return to the team's annual event on Sunday at the Delta Center.
Relaxed and all smiles, Braun not surprisingly said he's been enjoying this off-season much more than his last.

"This is nice," he said during a break. "It’s definitely a lot different for me. It’s just nice to be able to relax, to have a regular schedule, a regular routine, know exactly what I’m getting myself into. More than anything else, it’s far more relaxing."

Basically the entire Brewers' 25-man roster (save for a few exceptions) is on hand to meet fans, sign autographs and take part in team-sanctioned events.

In the few moments the players actually have downtime at these things, they use them to reconnect with teammates they haven't seen since the end of last season and meet players who have since joined the Brewers.

"That’s one of the most enjoyable parts of this experience for us, is just getting to see each other again, meeting some of the new guys," said Braun. "I think you start to build that camaraderie, start to make fun of each other again and it starts to feel like spring training is right around the corner – which it is.

"So it’s fun."

Braun wi'll head into spring training a little bit ahead of the curve this year having begun long-tossing in November and hitting in earnest in December. In the past, Braun typically wouldn't start hitting until sometime in January.

Much of this advance prep work is to help him get prepared for the World Baseball Classic. Braun, along with Jonathan Lucroy, is a member of Team USA, which will begin training in Phoenix on March 1. Team USA's first game is March 8 at Chase Field against Mexico (which will have a pair of Brewers starters in Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada).

Unlike some of the other big American stars who passed on the opportunity to play for Team USA, Braun said he relished the opportunity.

"First and foremost, it’s an honor," he said. "It’s a tremendous honor to represent your country. You don’t know how many opportunities you’ll get to do that – this tournament only happens once every four years, and four years from now who knows – for all of us – what our health situation will be, where we’ll be in the game, whether we’ll even get an opportunity to be invited.

"For me, I think it was a no-brainer. As long as I was healthy, it was something I was definitely going to do."

Braun was then asked about playing alongside Lucroy for Team USA, and got in the zinger of the day.

"It’s amazing – I didn’t even know Team USA had a bullpen catcher," he said with a grin. "It’s really cool to have a teammate. It’s going to be really fun for both of us. We’ve talked about it and we’re pretty excited. It’s definitely a cool opportunity, and we’ll get a chance to play against some of our teammates, too."

As far as the Brewers' chances this year, Braun, like everyone else, is interested in seeing how the team's rotation shakes out. Aside from Gallardo and Estrada, Chris Narveson is attempting to return from rotator-cuff surgery, and youngsters Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta will also be trying to win spots.

"I think the talent is there; it’s about going out there and doing it over the course of the season," he said. "We have some guys that are relatively inexperienced (in the rotation) – we don’t know exactly what they’re going to be able to do. But aside from that, I think we’re certainly going to be competitive again.

"And as long as you’re competitive, that’s all you can ask for."

As far as individual goals for the upcoming season, Braun said he's looking for continued improvement. Of course, bettering his 2012 season in which he hit .319 with a career-high 41 home runs, 112 runs batted in, 30 stolen bases and a .987 OPS, isn't going to be easy.

"I think the challenge is just always longevity and consistency, so hopefully I continue to have success," he said. "There’s always room for improvement. I think defense is something I’ve always prioritized and tried to get better at. I think I’m headed in the right direction. Hopefully continue to get better defensively.

"It’d be really cool if I could walk more than I strike out. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but if I could do that, it’d be really cool."

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Ryan Braun still happy with long-term Brewers commitment

The Brewers have had no luck in recent years in keeping elite players off the free-agent market. Overtures to the likes of CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder and Zack Greinke were rebuffed and those players left for huge deals with other clubs.

The one exception has been all-star leftfielder Ryan Braun. He signed an eight-year, $45 million deal after his 2007 NL rookie of the year season, then basically committed to the Brewers for life by agreeing to a five-year, $105 million extension in April 2011 that takes him through the 2020 season with a mutual option for 2021.

In an interview on "The D List"  on 540 Milwaukee ESPN radio on Wednesday morning, Braun said he had no regrets for signing up for years to come with the Brewers rather than seeing what he might be offered on the free agent market.

"I wouldn't change a thing," said Braun. "I love it in Milwaukee. It's amazing. I think the more time I've spent there, the more I realize how great a situation it really is.

"An incredibly supportive fan base. A great ball park to play in. Weather is never an issue. We're centrally located as far as travel goes. I think from the top of the organization, from the ownership group on down, everybody is committed to winning. We've got to go to the playoffs two times in the last four or five years. We're consistently playing competitive baseball.

"For me, there's no place I'd rather be. I'm certainly still thrilled with the decision I made. I feel so fortunate, I really do. But I don't fault anybody else for making their decision, either. They have to do what they feel are in their best interests."

Braun went on to say he feels great physically and is looking forward to once again participating in the World Baseball Classic this spring.

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Ryan Braun officially named to Team USA

It's official. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun and catcher Jonathan Lucroy have been named to the Team USA roster for the World Baseball Classic this spring.

Braun and Lucroy were the only Brewers named to the prelimnary roster. A final 28-man roster, including at least 13 pitchers and two catchers, must be submitted on Feb. 20.

Braun will be competing in the WBC for the second time, having competed for Team USA in 2009.

Toronto's J.P. Arencibia and Minnesota's Joe Mauer joined Lucroy as the three catchers on the Team USA provisional roster.

Beyond Braun, the outfielders named are Adam Jones, Giancarlo Stanton, Shane Victorino and Ben Zobrist.

Team USA begins pool play in the World Baseball Classic on March 8 in Phoenix against Mexico. Italy and Canada are the other teams in Pool D.

Team USA will be led by manager Joe Torre. Torre's coaching staff includes Larry Bowa (bench coach), Marcel Lachemann (bullpen/pitching coach), Greg Maddux (pitching coach), Dale Murphy (first base coach), Gerald Perry (hitting coach) and Willie Randolph (third base coach). Lachemann and Maddux will oversee Team USA’s pitching staff.  

"Having talked to all of these players I sense a great deal of excitement about representing the United States in the World Baseball Classic," Torre said.  "I share their excitement and look forward to managing this talented group in March."

Only 27 players were named to the provisional roster and Torre said he was holding open a spot for another starting pitcher. Four starters already named are Atlanta's Kris Medlen, Toronto's R.A. Dickey, Texas' Derek Holland and San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong.

Relief pitchers named to the roster include San Francisco's Jeremh Affeldt, Arizona's Heath Bell, St. Louis' Mitchell Boggs, Miami's Steve Cishek, Kansas City's Tim Collins, San Diego's Luke Gregerson, Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel, and Cleveland's Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano.

Infielders include New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins and New York Mets third baseman David Wright, as well as utility man Willie Bloomquist.

The rosters for the other countries will be made official later today. Brewers who already have committed to play for their countries are relievers John Axford and Jim Henderson and infielder Taylor Green for Canada, right-hander Yovani Gallardo for Mexico and catcher Martin Maldonado for Puerto Rico.

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Ryan Braun heads wide array of guests to attend fanfest

MILWAUKEE -- All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun and all three of the Brewers' new relievers were among 50 current, former and future players confirmed Thursday to attend the team's annual "On Deck" event later this month.

Besides Braun, the Brewers announced that relievers Burke Badenhop, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny would attend, as would broadcaster Bob Uecker and top 2012 Draft picks Clint Coulter, Victor Roache and Mitch Haniger.

On Deck, scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 27, at Milwaukee's downtown convention center, is the club's annual fanfest, with autograph and photo opportunities, interactive forums with coaches and players, memorabilia sales and baseball activities for kids. Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for kids, and are on sale at Brewers.com/OnDeck.

The full list of participants includes current 40-man roster members John Axford, Badenhop, Jeff Bianchi, Braun, Nick Bucci, Hiram Burgos, Khris Davis, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Yovani Gallardo, Mat Gamel, Scooter Gennett, Caleb Gindl, Carlos Gomez, Gonzalez, Gorzelanny, Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Johnny Hellweg, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, Chris Narveson, Michael Olmsted, Wily Peralta, Josh Prince, Mark Rogers, Logan Schafer, Josh Stinson, Tyler Thornburg and Rickie Weeks. Missing from that list, at least for now, are starting third baseman Aramis Ramirez, shortstop Jean Segura and right fielder Norichika Aoki.

Manager Ron Roenicke and his entire coaching staff will attend, as will former Brewers Jerry Augustine, Jim Gantner, Larry Hisle and Gorman Thomas, and prospects Coulter, Kentrail Davis, Drew Gagnon, Haniger, Taylor Jungmann, Hunter Morris, Jimmy Nelson and Roache.

A club official said the full autograph schedule would be announced at a later date, but that the system in place for previous On Deck events would hold. Some signers will be labeled "premier," and their autograph available via a random selection process with numbered coupons, which will be distributed beginning at 8 a.m. CT at the Delta Center. Coupon distribution will be available up to an hour before each designated autograph session.

Fans can receive one coupon per event admission ticket and can use that coupon to enter the random selection process for any one of the select players. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding one of the 250 coupons that are chosen must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature, with all autograph proceeds going to the Brewers Community Foundation.

Players and staff not included in the premier autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team -- the Brewers say they cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. 

The club's announcement noted that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs.

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Ryan Braun on video games, WBC, Brewers

Every year, when a new version of Sony’s “MLB: The Show” series hits stores, Ryan Braun and his Brewers teammates can’t wait to dig in and dig at each other about how slow/ugly/weak their characters are in the game.

“It’s a fun way for us to talk trash,” Braun said, laughing, he breaks down how his teammates’ play in the game. “It’s a way for us to see what guys they got right, what guys they didn’t get right in terms of the abilities they give different guys on the team.

“We always have fun with that, and hopefully it’s an opportunity for us to make fun of each other a little.”

This year, Braun is not only one of the best characters in the video game, he has a shot to be on the cover, thanks to Sony’s “MLB 13: The Show” cover vote. And while Braun currently sits in last place among the seven candidates, he thinks he still has a shot if Brewer Nation can come through late.

“First and foremost, they’ve never had a Brewer on the cover, so I think it would be cool to be the first Milwaukee Brewer on the cover of ‘The Show,’ ” Braun said. “It will be exciting for our fans and for our organization. The big-market teams always get all of the love, so it would be exciting to show a little bit of love to a smaller-market team. It seems like they always put American League guys on the cover, so it’s time to get the National League back on there.”

ESPN Playbook: Are you a big video game player?
Ryan Braun: I play a little bit of everything. I play “Call of Duty,” I play “Halo,” and I play a little bit of “Madden.” I’ve always been into the baseball games like "The Show," but there isn’t just one game I stick to or play too regularly.

When did you first start playing video games?
I remember when I had the original Nintendo with “Baseball Stars” and “Tecmo Bowl.” I remember playing “Tecmo Bowl” all the time. That’s my favorite game. I used to play as Walter Payton. He was unstoppable. [laughs] “Baseball Stars” was another one that was so much fun, and it’s probably the first game I remember playing regularly. It was just something that I really enjoyed and it increased the passion I had for playing the game of baseball.

What do you think of the “MLB: The Show” series? Is it realistic enough for you?
It is. The details of the game are just incredible. It’s amazing how far baseball video games have come and how accurate they are as far as getting a guy’s tendencies and routines and mannerisms down. The details they have from the stadiums to the fans, it really is incredible.

When you look at your character in the game, what do you think? Is he fast enough? Strong enough? Good-looking enough for you?
[laughs] I think they’ve done a pretty good job other than the fact that they still have me with the long hair. I cut my hair about a year ago, but other than the length of my hair, I think it’s pretty impressive. They’ve done a pretty good job.

I’ll let the producers of the game know, in “MLB 13,” give Braun a haircut.
Please. [laughs]

I checked the voting, and you’re currently in last place. Why do you think you’re falling so far behind?
I’m at a pretty big disadvantage because I don’t do Twitter, I don’t do Facebook … I don’t do any of the social media stuff. I think that puts me at a pretty big disadvantage, but I hear the people of Milwaukee are waiting until the end of the week to make their move, so there’s still hope.

During the season, do any of the Brewers bring video game systems on the road?
Some guys will bring their PlayStations with them on the road, and other guys like to play video games on the plane. It can get pretty competitive.

Besides campaigning for this cover vote, what else have you been doing in the offseason?
I’ve been traveling a little bit. I spent some time in Europe and in Costa Rica, just relaxing and enjoying my downtime. I live in Los Angeles in the offseason, so right now, I’m just enjoying this incredible weather. It’s 70 degrees in January, so I’m enjoying the weather, traveling, and keeping myself in shape, but I’m really looking forward to getting out to spring training in a little while.

I hear you’re going to be playing in the World Baseball Classic again this year. Why did you want to sign up to be a part of Team USA?
Last time I did it, I had so much fun. I think it’s an incredible opportunity to represent your country. There’s just something about wearing that USA jersey and hearing your national anthem that’s incredibly patriotic. It’s a really special experience. I’m honored to be playing, and really thrilled that I have that opportunity.

The atmosphere and the crowd vibe with all of the drums and flags was unlike any baseball crowd I’d ever experienced.

It really was. To a lot of guys, it was almost like playing winter ball with all the energy and passion. Team USA opened up against Canada in Canada, and the intensity was almost like a playoff game. It was pretty incredible, it really was. The atmosphere and environment really make it a lot of fun.

Last season, you had an incredible season. How important was it for you to put up such huge numbers a year after the scandal?
For me, the goal is always to be as consistent and productive as possible. I’ve never really focused on what anyone else really thinks, I’ve just always tried to be the very best player I can be and play as consistent as I can. But absolutely, I can say that last year there was some added motivation.

As a kid growing up, did you have a favorite baseball player who you used to play as in the video games, and then you eventually got to meet or play against?
Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player growing up, so it’s certainly been a lot of fun to get to know him and hang out with him a little bit. I wear his Swingman apparel, the cleats, the batting gloves, and all that stuff, so it’s been really cool to have the opportunity to get to know him. It’s really one of those surreal experiences to think about playing the Ken Griffey baseball video game as a kid, and then getting to meet him. Everything in major league baseball happens so fast, and you rarely get that chance to sit back and reflect about what you’re doing, but when something like that occurs, you really try to embrace that moment and enjoy.

Out of all of the players you’ve had the chance to interact with, who has given you the best advice in terms of finding success at such a high level?
The two best teammates I’ve ever had were Trevor Hoffman and Mike Cameron in terms of them being good guys, great leaders, and while both of them had great careers on the field, it’s more about how they carried themselves day in and day out. Through good and bad, success and failure, they were always the same person and that’s something I’ve always admired about them, and something I always strive to do as a player.

Millions of people are going to play as the virtual Ryan Braun in “MLB 13: The Show” in a couple of months when the game hits stores. What’s the one thing about hitting in real life that they’ll never be able to capture in a video game?
There’s something special about hitting a home run and getting to circle the bases. I think individually, there isn’t much greater feeling than hitting a home run and getting the opportunity to enjoy the moment a little bit as you round the bases. I don’t think they can ever quite capture that experience in a video game.

The only other thing left to capture is some virtual crime-scene tape down the third-base line in case your character ever trips rounding the bases. What did you think when you saw the creativity of your teammates for their chalk outline the day after your infamous fall?
I think the further I get away from that moment, the funnier it became. In the moment, it wasn’t funny. I could’ve got a home run, I could’ve got an extra run for my team, but moving away from that, it was pretty funny and one of the lighter moments you enjoy.

I guess that’s another note to the game’s producers, to get that chalk outline into the game in one of the cut scenes.
That would be too funny. [laughs] That would be cool.

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Ryan Braun will play in the World Baseball Classic

Ryan Braun said during a radio interview with WSSP-1250 in Milwaukee yesterday that he’ll participate in the World Baseball Classic.

Braun played for Team USA in 2009 and the Brewers left fielder has already started working out in preparation for this year’s event, which begins in early March.

Braun won the NL MVP in 2011 by hitting .332 with 33 homers and a .994 OPS in 150 games and followed that up by hitting .319 with 41 homers and a .987 OPS in 154 games last season, but finished runner-up in the voting to Buster Posey.

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Ryan Braun 2012 Highlights

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Ryan Braun: A King Even Without His Prince

It was just a year ago at this time that Ryan Braun’s name was starting to be whispered in connection to a failed PED test sometime at the end of the 2011 season. We all know how it shook out. Braun was indeed accused of violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement, appealed, and, in a rather substantial upset, was exonerated in all but the court of public opinion.

Plenty of people believed then — and continue to believe — that Braun gamed the system and should have been suspended for 50 games, 42 more than he actually missed in 2012. I have strong opinions on the JDA and PEDs in general, but this isn’t so much the space for them. The important thing for fantasy players is that, whether you believe Braun was using a PED or not in 2011, don’t bother waiting for the other shoe to drop. It will never come. I studied it for Sports Illustrated, Nate Silver did it for Baseball Between the Numbers, Justin Wolfers and a team of Penn economists did it for a peer-review journal (this was then republished in the New York Times), and pair of stats professors did it for the New York Times, and all four studies came to the same conclusion: There is no statistical evidence to support the idea that PEDs produce abnormal offensive seasons.

There’s no way to know for sure how many people resisted drafting Braun because they were worried he’d suddenly turn to sand, but he surely didn’t. As previously noted, he played all but eight games this season and gave owners very similar production compared to what he gave them last year. While his 2011 campaign featured a higher batting average and a slightly better slash line across the board — .332/.397/.597 in 2011 compared to .319/.391/.595 in 2012 — he hit eight more home runs to help make up the difference. His run and RBI totals were even more remarkably similar: 109/111 respectively in 2011 and 108/112 in 2012.

If it’s possible for a top-10 pick to be undervalued, Braun might be the type who is. He’s a phenomenal hitter, there isn’t a soul who doesn’t know that, but he also stole 30 bases, tying him for 17th in baseball and ninth in the National League. He’s highly efficient in his base-stealing, stealing 30 bases in 37 attempts in 2012 and 33 out of 39 attempts in 2011, so while he doesn’t get an abnormally high number of chances, he should constantly be an asset in that category in a way other 35-40 HR threats typically aren’t.

Notable to OBP players will be the sharp uptick Braun saw in intentional walks after the departure of Prince Fielder. In his five seasons prior to 2012, Braun was intentionally walked just nine times and never more than four times in a year, but in 2012 alone he was given then standing four count 15 times. Aramis Ramirez had his best seasons ever by wRC+, but was still unable to keep Braun from getting passed. If this trend continues next season, and there’s little reason to believe it won’t, Braun’s OBP will get a nice bump, though it will come at the expense of a few RBI chances. He wasn’t much worse for the wear last year, however, so even if he were to reach 20 intentional walks, it’s unlikely to make a noticeable difference in his counting stats.

Positional scarcity certainly help to explain why Braun isn’t fighting for the first overall pick — and why Mike Trout may not go first overall either — but over the last two seasons only Miguel Cabrera has had a higher wOBA or wRC+ than Braun. Over the same time period, Bruan is third in batting average, second in HR, fifth in RBI, fourth in runs scored, 10th in stolen bases, the only player to appear in the top 10 of all major offensive categories. You can’t, as the saying goes, win a draft in the first round, but you can lose one; Braun is exactly the type of player who will provide a high peak without a lot of associated risk and that’s exactly what a high first-rounder should do.

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Ryan Braun: Posey deserved to win

Ryan Braun insisted he never gave it a second thought that he might repeat as the National League most valuable player in 2012.

"To be honest, I didn’t really think much about it at all," Braun said Thursday night after it was announced that San Francisco catcher Buster Posey easily topped him for the MVP award. "I didn’t think that I was going to win. It was exciting to know that I was a finalist and to know I had another season that put me in that MVP conversation. That’s something that I’m proud of. Aside from that, I didn’t really think about it at all.

"I think Buster Posey deserved to win. What he was able to accomplish this year as a catcher for a team that eventually went on to win the World Series was incredible. I thought he was the best player; I thought he deserved to be the MVP. He certainly is deserving of the award."

Braun finished a distant second to Posey, trailing 422 votes to 285. Posey had 27 of the 32 first-place votes, while Braun garnered only three. He was asked if it mattered where he placed if he didn't win.

"Nope, honestly," he said. "It’s cool to come in second place but in 10 or 20 years, when I look back at that, I don’t think it’ll make too big of a difference whether I came in second, third, fourth or fifth. But it’s definitely an honor just to be in that conversation, to be an MVP finalist. Aside from that, it didn’t make much difference."

There was much chatter before the announcement about whether Braun would be penalized by voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America for his drug-test saga of last offseason, when he tested postive for elevated testosterone and had it overturned on appeal, though it played out publicly after the news leaked to the media. Braun deflected that line of questioning somewhat.

"I never focus on things out of my control," he saidl. "I don’t think about those things. I’m not oblivious to what’s going on or what’s been said but aside from that, I don’t spend any time thinking about those things."

Asked if he thought he was penalized in other awards or might be in the future, Braun said, "You’d have to ask them. I don’t know. Unfortunately, I don’t have a vote. If I did, that would be cool and I could give you guys an answer as to what I based my opinion on and my vote on.

"Other than that, I thought I had a good season. I don’t think I had a great season. I don’t think my season was far and away better than anybody else’s to the point I feel like I deserved an award that I didn’t get. So, I really don’t know."

As for whether the Giants getting to the postseason could have and should have helped Posey, Braun said, "Absolutely. For all of us as players, our goal is to make it to the postseason. That goal is now easier than ever with two additional wild-card teams. That’s what everybody’s goal is and should be. The best players on the teams that end up getting to the postseason deserve extra credit because that’s what everybody’s priority is. That’s what everybody works for all year.

"So, certainly, he should have been given credit for it. I would imagine that he did. We made a good effort but we fell short and there’s no doubt the guys who do get to the postseason should be given extra credit."

And, for those who have been dying to hear from Braun about reports about getting engaged to model Larisa Fraser, he laughed and said, "I don’t comment on anything going on in my private life but if that were to be true I’d be a very lucky man."

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MVP voters didn't penalize Ryan Braun

For all the hand-wringing about "vindictive" writers leaving Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun off their National League Most Valuable Player ballot because of his failed drug test last offseason, none of the 32 voters left him off their ballot, and he was no lower than fourth on any of the ballots. Braun received three of the five first-place votes that didn't go to winner Buster Posey.

Braun finished second overall to Posey, albeit a distant second, collecting 285 points to Posey's 422 votes.

Braun's three first-place votes came from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com and Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Braun also had 15 second-place votes, 10 third-place votes and four fourth-place votes. The four fourth-place votes came from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Hirokazu Higuchi of the Chuinichi Shimbun, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald and Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times.
Braun, last year's MVP, had a positive drug test last October, but it was overturned on appeal.

Before the announcement of the award, Haudricourt wrote:

If that turns out to be the case, we'll see which writers unduly penalized Braun. Considering he had the best overall offensive season of any player in the NL and the Brewers fought until the final weekend for the second wild-card berth, if Braun is placed much lower than third on ballots it would suggest there was an agenda.

Afterward, despite the fact Braun finished second and was on all 32 ballots, the Brewers beat writer stuck to that theory:

Though Braun's overall numbers were superior to Posey's, many considered the Giants' catcher the favorite for two primary reasons: 1. He led San Francisco to the NL West crown with a sensational second half. 2. Reservations over the positive drug test of Braun in October 2011, though he had it overturned on appeal and it had nothing to do with his 2012 season.

There are three statements in there -- only one can be considered factual -- the Giants did win the National League West. Another is debatable (that Braun's overall numbers were superior), while the last, that voters held Braun's failed test against him, is supported by no facts.

One of those voters, Biertempfel, noted he voted for Braun last season.

"I don't vote on sheer numbers, I'd be lying if I said the drug thing didn't cross my mind, but it was no mitigating factor because last year was last year and this was this year. I believe he started this year with a clean slate," Biertempfel said on Thursday.

Biertempfel, who has covered the Pirates the last 20 years, said his first-place vote came down to Posey and the Pirates' McCutchen.

"I thought clearly throughout the course of the entire season that Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen were the best players in the National League," Biertempfel said. "Posey was ultimately more consistent longer."

At that point, he said it came down to two players he sees quite a bit in the NL Central, Braun and Yadier Molina.

"I see them a ton, I see them crush the Pirates a ton. I considered a lot of things, but I consider Yadier Molina a better overall player than Ryan Braun," Biertempfel said. "I've seen him beat the Pirates more different ways than Ryan Braun. To me, he's a more complete player."

Like I wrote of my ballot, I put in a lot of thought and considered many different things in my ballot. So, too, did Biertempfel. We didn't have the same ballot and didn't agree on everything, but we both put in plenty of thought and consideration to our ballots. In the end, though, there was no backlash against Braun, it's just that more people believed Posey had a better season than Braun. That, not a conspiracy or vendetta, was why Posey earned the MVP over Braun.

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MLB Network analyst likes Ryan Braun's MVP credentials

Tuesday on the MLB Network's "Clubhouse Confidential" show, Brian Kenny analyzed the 2012 National League MVP race and said his choice for the honor is Ryan Braun of the Brewers, who won the award in 2011. 

Other players up for consideration are Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon, Giants catcher Buster Posey and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

“If I had to actually vote, I’d go with the guy who was the best power hitter, who is also a plus-base runner and a plus-defender," Kenny said. "If I’m running a team and I could have just one of these seasons, I would take the season produced by Ryan Braun. It’s close, but Ryan Braun is my MVP.”

The winner of the 2012 National League MVP is to announced on the MLB Network at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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Ryan Braun, Aaron Rodgers restaurant raises $60,000 for Brookfield shooting victims

BROOKFIELD A fundraiser held by the restaurant named for Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun raised more than $60,000 for victims’ families of a Brookfield spa shooting.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder were not at the event Monday night at 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill in Brookfield but donated items for auction.

The pair are partners in the restaurant, which is run by SURG Restaurant Group.

The group’s co-owner, Omar Shaikh, says the proceeds go to the eight children left behind by the three women killed at Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield.
Radcliffe Haughton shot seven women Oct. 21. Three died, including his estranged wife, Zina, before Haughton killed himself.

More than 115 salons, spas and beauty schools are also donating some profits Tuesday to the families.

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PHOTOS: Ryan Braun gets engaged to supermodel

The Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun decided to cap off his 2012 by getting engaged to model Larisa Fraser.

Fraser let the engagement news slip while blogging about her trip to Costco.

Busted Coverage was reading Fraser's blog (for the content, not the pictures, of course) and posted the following excerpt from a post that appears to have been deleted:

"After a fridge loading Costco Trip it was time to feed the boyfriend–fiance (I'm still not used to that) something 'new' DA DA DA DAAAA…"

The "DA DA DA DAAAA" is the phonetic spelling of Mendelssohn's Wedding March ... so now you know.

There are so many delicious foods at Costco, we can only guess what Fraser decided on. Rotisserie chicken? Kirkland grass-fed ground beef? That imitation crab dip sample Costco pushes when you're trying to get the wine selection?




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Ryan Braun wins fifth Silver Slugger

Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun was rewarded Thursday for having the best overall offensive season in the National League in 2012 by claiming his fifth consecutive Silver Slugger Award.

Silver Sluggers are awarded every year to the best offensive performers at their positions in each league in votes by the managers and coaches, who are not allowed to select players from their teams. Three outfielders are elected in each league with no regard to the exact position they play.

Braun, who has won the award in all five seasons in which he has played the outfield, led the NL with 41 home runs, 108 runs scored and a .987 OPS (on-base plus slugging). He was second with 112 runs batted in, 191 hits and a .595 slugging percentage, third with a .319 batting average and fourth with a .391 on-base percentage.

The other outfielders selected in the National League were Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati rightfielder Jay Bruce.

Aramis Ramirez did not repeat at third base in the National League despite having a big offensive season -- .300, 50 doubles, 27 homers, 105 RBI. That honor went to San Diego's Chase Headley, who led the league with 115 RBI.

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Ryan Braun finalist for NL MVP

As expected, Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun -- the reigning NL MVP -- was named one of the five finalists for the 2012 MVP Award in the National League on Wednesday.

The finalists for each award of the Baseball Writers Association of America were announced on the MLB Network, which will broadcast the awards next week for the first time from Monday through Thursday.

Braun was joined by San Francisco's Buster Posey, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, San Diego's Chase Headley and St. Louis' Yadier Molina as finalists for the MVP Award. The BBWAA submits ballots after the regular season with 10 names, with first place weighted heavily in the points system.

By statistics alone, one could make a strong case that Braun should be the MVP again this year. He was first with 41 home runs, 108 runs scored and a .987 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Braun was second with 112 runs batted in, 191 hits and a .595 slugging percentage, third with a .319 batting average and fourth with a .391 on-base percentage.

But MLB Network analyst brought up the subject that is expected to cost Braun dearly -- the positive drug test for elevated testosterone last October. That process was supposed to be confidential but leaked to the media and even though Braun had the test overturned on appeal and it had nothing to do with his 2012 season, the general consensus is that he was penalized in the voting by BBWAA members, making Posey the favorite.

"He was better (than in 2011) but he's not going to win it because of the offseason he had last year," Reynolds said flatly. "He's not going to win MVP this year."
Reynolds went on to say that he expects Posey to win in a landslide.

Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki, who had a very nice first year in the majors, was not among the three finalists for NL rookie of the year.
The finalists for the other awards:

Rookie of the Year
National League: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati;  Bryce Harper, Washington; Wade Miley, Arizona.
American League: Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland; Yu Darvish, Texas; Mike Trout, Los Angeles.

Manager of the Year
National League: Dusty Baker, Cincinnati; Bruce Bochy, San Francisco; Davey Johnson, Washington.
American League: Bob Melvin, Oakland; Buck Showalter, Baltimore; Robin Ventura, Chicago.

Cy Young Award
National League: R.A. Dickey, New York; Gio Gonzalez, Washington; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles.
American League: David Price, Tampa Bay; Justin Verlander, Detroit; Jered Weaver, Los Angeles.

Most Valuable Player
American League: Adrian Beltre, Texas; Miguel Cabrera, Detroit; Robinson Cano, New York; Josh Hamilton, Texas; Mike Trout, Los Angeles.

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Gold Glove eludes Ryan Braun

The Milwaukee Brewers took a big step forward defensively in 2012. Still, it wasn't enough to net them their first Rawlings Gold Glove winner since Robin Yount in 1982.

Despite posting the best fielding percentage in the National League, Aramis Ramirez was beaten out in his quest for his first career Gold Glove on Tuesday. Ryan Braun, a Gold Glove finalist for the second consecutive season, also fell short.

As a result, the Brewers now have gone 30 years without having a player regarded as the best defensively in their league. They're also the only team in the major leagues to not have a player win a Gold Glove in the 2000s.

Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres was the winner at third base, where David Wright of the New York Mets was the other finalist. Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies was the winner in left field, where Martin Prado of the Atlanta Braves was the third finalist.

That Ramirez was even in the conversation as one of the top fielders at third was noteworthy, considering his reputation coming from the Chicago Cubs as an offense-only performer.

But from the outset of 2012 Ramirez played as well as anybody, displaying good range and excelling at rushing in to field bunts.

Ramirez finished the year with a .977 fielding percentage, a career high for him and a hair better than Headley's mark of .976. He also cut his error total in half, committing only seven after finishing with 14 in 2011 with Chicago.

History suggested that Ramirez would have a hard time winning the award despite his numbers, as year-after-year winners seem to be chosen more on reputation than anything. But defense can also be a tough category to quantify, with fielding percentage and errors no longer providing a complete picture of a player's ability in the field.

According to Rawlings, each manager and up to six coaches on his staff vote from a pool of qualified players from their league and cannot vote for players on their own team.

Braun, meanwhile, finished seventh in fielding percentage among NL leftfielders at .979. He had six assists and committed six errors. For comparison's sake, Gonzalez finished with a .982 fielding percentage, seven assists and four errors.

Interestingly, none of the top four leftfielders as far as fielding percentage in the NL - Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs, Jason Kubel of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ryan Ludwick of the Cincinnati Reds and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals - made the cut as a finalist .

Braun was beaten out by Arizona's Gerardo Parra in 2011 despite committing just one error.

The Brewers have had nine Gold Glove winners in all: George Scott (five, at first base); Cecil Cooper (two, at first base); Sixto Lezcano (one, outfield); and Yount (shortstop).

One former Brewers player, J.J. Hardy, won the Gold Glove at shortstop in the American League for the Baltimore Orioles.

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Ryan Braun named Gold Glove finalist

Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Braun have been named National League finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at their respective positions.

The winners will be announced tomorrow at 8:30 Central on ESPN's Baseball Tonight. You can find more details about the show, and the complete list of finalists from both the NL and AL here.

Ramirez, who came to the Brewers last off-season with a reputation as a shoddy fielder, actually posted a career- and National League-best .977 fielding percentage at third base.

He also cut his error total in half, committing only seven after committing 14 in 2011 with the Chicago Cubs.

Joining Ramirez as finalists at third base are Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres and David Wright of the New York Mets.

Headley finished just behind Ramirez in fielding percentage in the NL at .976, while Wright was third at .974.

Reputation seems to matter more than anything as far as this award goes, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ramirez fail to win despite having performed so well in the field.

Wright won Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008.

Braun, meanwhile, is a finalist in left field for the second time in as many seasons. Last year he was edged out by Arizona's Gerardo Parra despite having committed just one error.

This past season, Braun finished seventh in fielding percentage among NL leftfielders at .979, having committed six errors.

Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies and Martin Prado of the Atlanta Braves are the other finalists. Interestingly, none of the top four leftfielders as far as fielding percentage in the NL -- Alfonso Soriano, Jason Kubel, Ryan Ludwick and Matt Holliday -- made the cut as a finalist for the award.

The Brewers haven't had a Gold Glove winner since 1982, when Robin Yount won it as an American League shortstop.

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Rodgers, Ryan Braun throwing benefit for Brookfield shooting victims

GREEN BAY- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Brewers slugger Ryan Braun want to help the families of the victims in the Azana Spa and Salon shooting.

The tragedy at the Brookfield spa left a lot of people grieving and a lot of other people looking for ways to help.  Among them, Rodgers, Braun and SURG partner Omar Shaikh, who plan on holding a benefit at their 8-Twelve MVP Bar and Grill in Brookfield for the families of three women killed and four others wounded in Sunday's shooting.

"It's 100% because of the community," says Rodgers.  "And Omar (Shaikh), Ryan (Braun) and I talked about doing something for the victims."

Rodgers says having the restaurant in Brookfield has made them more interested in the Brookfield community.

"It was a big time tragedy.  So, anything we can do to help out is what Omar, Ryan and I are going to do."

So they are planning a fundraising event.  Shaikh is finalizing plans for a fundraising dinner in which 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the victims and their families.

More details of the benefit will be announced on Monday.

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VIDEO: Ryan Braun signing prints for Greatest Jewish Ballplayers artwork

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Crunching the numbers for Ryan Braun

The Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun was baseball's Most Valuable Player last season and put up MVP-type numbers in 2012.

Braun had success off some pitchers and not as much against others. Here's a look at some notable statistics for Braun from the past two seasons combined (not including postseason):

Most plate appearances: 24 vs. Bronson Arroyo (7 for 23, hit by pitch).
Most hits: 8 vs. Jake Westbrook (8 for 16)
Most home runs: 3 vs. Arroyo and Cliff Lee
Highest batting average, 10 or more plate appearances (PA): .556 vs. Roy Halladay (5 for 9, 11 PA)
Worst batting average, 10 or more PA: Jeff Karstens (0 for 11)
Highest slugging percentage, 10 or more PA: 1.231 vs. Lee
Most RBI: 8 vs. James McDonald
Most walks: 4 vs. Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Garza
Most strikeouts: 6 vs. Johnny Cueto
Never got him out, gave up 2 homers: Joe Beimel (2 for 2, walk), Liam Hendriks (2 for 2, walk)
Faced once, homered: Jose Arredondo, Jose Ascanio, Antonio Bastardo, Brad Brach, Alex Hinshaw, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Luis Perez, B.J. Rosenberg
Most at-bats with nothing but strikeouts: 2 vs. Nick Masset, Kanley Jansen and Octavio Dotel
Most grounded into double plays: 2 vs. Mark Buehrle (0 for 3 overall) and Justin Germano (2 for 6)
Most hit by pitches: 2 vs. Jason Grilli

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Ryan Braun tops Brewers' annual awards

Leftfielder Ryan Braun and right-hander Yovani Gallardo were unanimous picks as the Brewers' most valuable player and most valuable pitcher, respectively, for the 2012 season in the annual voting of the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Eight ballots were returned by the BBWAA chapter in Milwaukee, and Braun and Gallardo were first on all eight ballots, receiving 40 points each in the 5-3-1 points system for first, second and third place. Three names were submitted for each category.

Also honored were third baseman Aramis Ramirez as top newcomer and right-hander Marco Estrada as unsung hero. Closer John Axford won the good guy award, given to a player who interacts particularly well with the media.

Braun batted .319 and led the Brewers with 41 home runs, 112 RBI, 108 runs scored, a .391 on-base percentage and a .595 slugging percentage. The reigning NL MVP played in 154 games, second on the club.

Ramirez, who batted .300 with 50 doubles, 27 home runs and 105 RBI, was a unanimous runner-up for second place as club MVP, and first baseman Corey Hart (.270, 30 homers, 83 RBI) received all the third-place votes.

Gallardo led the Brewers' late-season charge into wild-card contention by reeling off eight consecutive victories over an 11-start span. He finished with a 16-9 record and 3.66 ERA, leading the club with 204 innings while logging at least 200 strikeouts (204) for the fourth consecutive season, extending his club record.

Estrada was second in the most valuable pitcher balloting with 13 points (four votes for second, one for third), followed by Mike Fiers with eight points (two votes for second, two for third).

Ramirez topped rightfielder Norichika Aoki for top newcomer, receiving seven first-place votes and one for second for 38 points. Aoki received the other first-place vote and also had six for second place to finish with 23 points. Fiers was third in that balloting with six points (six votes for third).

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Ryan Braun wins National League home-run crown

Ryan Braun became the first Milwaukee Brewer to win the National League home-run title since Prince Fielder in 2007.

Braun had 41 round-trippers this year, four more than second-place Giancarlo Stanton of Miami.

Chase Headley won the league RBI title over second-place Braun last night, 115 to 112. Headley had a run-scoring double and a run-scoring triple in his final game, while Braun had a single but did not drive in anyone.

Braun also led the NL with 108 runs scored. He finished third in batting average at .319.

Buster Posey of San Francisco won the batting title at .336.

The Milwaukee pitchers failed to get the eight strikeouts they needed last night to set a new Major League record for season punch-outs. The Brewers had six K’s.

They became only the second Major League team to surpass 1,400 strikeouts for the year, finishing with 1,402. The 2003 Chicago Cubs own the record.

Milwaukee did become the first team since 1996 to lead the National League in both homers, with 202, and stolen bases, with 158.

Colorado was the last to achieve it 16 years ago.

Miguel Cabrera of Detroit became baseball’s first Triple Crown winner since 1967. He led the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBI’s.

Cabrera became only the 14th big leaguer to accomplish the feat. Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski was the last to do it in 1967.

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Ryan Braun falls short in RBI chase as Padres beat Brewers 7-6

MILWAUKEE –  Ryan Braun admits this was not an easy season for him.

The Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun went 1 for 4 in a 7-6 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. He led the NL with 41 homers and 108 runs, and also ranked first in extra-base hits, slugging percentage and total bases. Braun was second in RBIs with 112 and third in batting at .319.

Braun won the NL MVP last year when he hit .332 with 33 homers, 111 RBIs and 109 runs. He faced a 50-game suspension after testing positive for elevated testosterone, but the players' union appealed and the test result was overturned by baseball arbitrator Shyam Das.

"I knew from the beginning it was going to be challenging, and it certainly was," Braun said. "For the most part, I feel like I've handled everything well, I was able to keep my composure, compete every day and ultimately contribute to a lot of our success as a team."

Travis Ishikawa drove in four runs for Milwaukee, including three with a double in the third that made it 6-0. The Brewers went 83-79, a drop of 13 wins after reaching the NL championship series last year.

Since Aug. 20, Milwaukee's 29-13 record was tops in the majors. The Brewers got within 1½ games of St. Louis in the chase for the second wild-card berth, but that was dashed with a 3-6 stretch in late September.

"It's always disappointing when you don't make it to the playoffs when you figure you have a team that is championship caliber," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "The whole season? A disappointment. "But when I look back at where we were and where we ended up, I'm really happy with where we went."

Chase Headley drove in two runs, finishing the season with a league-leading 115 RBIs — three ahead of Braun.

"It was on my mind, but you couldn't think about it too much," Headley said. "To go out and compete against a guy like Ryan Braun, I was a little nervous, but everything turned out great.

"It's just neat. It's a tremendous honor."

Headley doubled home a run in the fifth inning, moments after his drive down the right-field line was called a home run but reversed when the umpires looked at a video replay.

Headley hit an RBI triple in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Yonder Alonso.

Headley also drew two walks and finished with a .286 batting average. His previous RBIs high was 64 in 2009.

"For Chase to hang on to the RBI lead was a great thing," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "It was awesome. That RBI thing was real. Our guys felt it. And looking over at their side, I think they felt it, too. They were sensing what was going on."

San Diego improved by five wins this year and wound up with a 76-86 record. The Padres won only five of their last 15 games.

Cameron Maybin hit a two-run homer for San Diego, and five relievers held Milwaukee hitless in the final six innings.

Tommy Layne (2-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory and Luke Gregerson earned his ninth save. Jim Henderson (1-3) gave up two runs in the seventh.

"I think ultimately we'll look back on the season as a positive," Braun said. "At the beginning of the year, if you would have told us we'd miss out on the postseason, I think we'd all be disappointed. But at the same time, you have to reassess your goals when you consider everything we've dealt with as a team.

"Injuries, trades, new guys coming up, 12 games under .500. To finish over .500 is definitely an accomplishment. Getting back into the race, playing meaningful games in September up until the last three games is something we're really proud of. Hopefully we can build on this heading into next year."

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Ryan Braun to chair AIDS Walk Wisconsin

Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun would much rather be participating in the playoffs this weekend but one benefit of the team not making it that far is that he gets to attend in person the Aids Walk Wisconsin on Saturday at the SummerFest Grounds.

Braun already had volunteered to be the Honorary Chair of the event and had a videotaped message ready should the Brewers still be playing. Instead, he will be on hand for the fundraiser that raises money to stay in state and support HIV prevention as well as care and treatment services including the ARCW Medical Center.

"First and foremost, it's a very worthwhile cause," said Braun, who follows past Honorary Chairs such as Bud Selig, Paul Molitor, Clay Matthews, Magic Johnson, Daryl Hamilton and Al Gore. "I think it's important for all of us to continue to raise awareness and raise money for research, prevention and treatment."
Braun said his mother often participated in AIDS fundraisers and wanted to follow in her footsteps.

"At a young age, she instilled in me the importance of giving back and how important this cause was, and how many people were affected by this disease," he said. "So, finally I have a chance to do my part and I'm excited about it.

"I think everybody knows or has heard of someone affected by AIDS. Growing up a Laker fan in Los Angeles, I remember seeing Magic go through it. And one of my mom's best friend's brother has AIDs. So, I have known people who have fought it."

As for the AIDS Walk Wisconsin, Braun said, "We hope to get as many people to come out as possible. People can still register. They can go to the Web site, www.aidswalkwis.org, or call 1-800-348-WALK and still show up on Saturday and participate. The more involvement we have, the better. In the state of Wisconsin, the number of cases has increased 19% with new IV infections, so the more people involved to fight it, the better.

"I would have preferred that the Brewers made the playoffs, but I'm excited that I'll have an opportunity to actually be there on Saturday. I hope as many people as possible can come out there."

Walker registration begins at the SummerFest Grounds at 10 a.m., with opening ceremonies at noon and the 5K walk beginning at 12:30 p.m. AIDS Walk Wisconsin is the state's largest AIDS fundraiser and has raied more than $11 million over 22 years.

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Ryan Braun makes history by joining 40/30 club

The Brewers lost 7-6 to the Astros last night and now sit five games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot with five games left to play. While the Brewers’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, Ryan Braun is busy making history.

Braun doubled in the sixth inning last night before stealing third base. He now has 30 stolen bases on the year to go along with a career-high 41 home runs. This is just the 11th time in MLB history that a player has amassed at least 40 homers and 30 stolen bases in one season.

Here are the others:

2006: Alfonso Soriano – 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases
1999: Jeff Bagwell – 42 home runs and 32 stolen bases
1998: Alex Rodriguez – 42 home runs and 46 stolen bases
1997: Barry Bonds – 40 home runs and 37 stolen bases
1997: Larry Walker – 49 home runs and 33 stolen bases
1997: Jeff Bagwell – 43 home runs and 31 stolen bases
1996: Barry Bonds – 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases
1996: Ellis Burks – 40 home runs and 32 stolen bases
1988: Jose Canseco – 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases
1963: Hank Aaron – 44 home runs and 31 stolen bases

Braun won the National League MVP award last season by hitting .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI, 33 stolen bases and a .994 OPS. He has a strong case for the award again this year on pure numbers alone, delivering a .319/.391/.602 batting line to go along with a .993 OPS. His 41 homers and 112 RBI currently lead the National League. Of course, the chances of a repeat are likely pretty slim. The Brewers are almost certainly going to miss the postseason and we’ll probably see quite a few voters dock him for his overturned PED test. Not saying it’s fair, as he should be assessed on his 2012 contributions alone and not the controversy that followed him into spring training, but that’s the reality of the situation.

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What Ryan Braun has proved

There's a speech that Martin Landau's character gives near the end of the darkly brilliant Woody Allen film "Crimes and Misdemeanors" that often comes to mind whenever I see amazing powers attributed to someone's ability to "look you in the eye" and "act as if they're not guilty," as if that's an accurate gauge of whether a person is telling the truth.

And the scene came rushing back to me as the discussion heated up about whether Ryan Braun's second straight MVP-caliber season proves the Milwaukee slugger's assertion that he never used performance-enhancing drugs even more than the fact his positive 2011 test was overturned on appeal.

The movie is about a lot of themes: betrayal, guilt, the human capacity for denial, and our yearning to believe the world is "just." It's also about what happens to a fictional man of great stature and ambition who is tripped up by a personal failing (in this case, Landau's character, Judah, has an affair and then violently disposes of the crazy mistress who threatens to destroy everything he's built). In his big summation near the end, Landau, speaking in a tone of voice that's so matter-of-fact it's haunting, describes how Judah went from panicked to guilt-ridden to relieved when an unexpected exoneration magically came his way: "One morning, he awakens. The sun is shining, his family is around him and mysteriously, the crisis has lifted. He takes his family on a vacation to Europe and as the months pass, he finds he's not punished. In fact, he prospers … What the hell? … His life is completely back to normal."

The point is the actual outcome proved nothing about the truth.

And it seems to me that's a good distinction to keep in mind now that Braun's terrific season seems to be getting freighted with more or less meaning than anyone can be sure it deserves. I'm all for the argument that his thrown-out test shouldn't be held against him in the upcoming MVP vote. But what I can't reconcile is the rush to declare that Braun's numbers categorically prove his claim that "I am an innocent man." Same goes for the rush to put Braun to the eyeball test and rhetorically ask his doubters, "Does Braun look like a guilty man to you?" or turn this into another hackneyed tale of sports "redemption."

A lot of it is based on the assumption that no one in Braun's position would dare do anything wrong again. And that logic might seem reasonable if so many other PED users hadn't looked us right in the eye, too, after being accused. If you want a few laughs, read this funny old Slate magazine compilation of how athletes have explained failed drug tests, "The Dog Ate My Steroids." But if you want a more sobering take, listen to this audio of BALCO founder Victor Conte, taped for San Francisco radio station KNBR after Braun's positive test came to light last year. Conte describes in daunting, rapid-fire detail how many ways tests can still be beat.

Which again pretty much underscores the point Allen's movie made: The outcomes may or may not have anything to do with the truth.

So isn't it better to confine ourselves to what we do know about Braun?

Ryan Braun is an exceptionally good baseball player. So good "it's stupid," Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers said with a laugh earlier this year. "Ridiculous," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke agreed, smiling as well.

Braun has had a hell of a season under trying circumstances. That's a fact, too. His numbers alone deserve to put him in the neck-and-neck race he's in with Giants catcher Buster Posey for the National League Most Valuable Player award. Braun's stats back up his opinion -- expressed most recently to CBSSports.com -- that he's played even better this season than he did while winning the MVP award last year. And he's done it without lineup protection from fellow slugger Prince Fielder, who moved on to Detroit this season.

What adds a special dimension to Braun's performance is the personal backstory. He's raised his level after becoming the only major leaguer ever known to have a positive drug test overturned. And if the process had worked the way it should've, none of it -- neither the fact his sample tested positive for five times the admissible level of testosterone, nor that an arbitration panel ruled 2-1 that the sample was mishandled -- would've ever gotten out publicly. Instead the positive result was leaked to ESPN before the appeal was over, in a breach of the program's confidentially provision. Braun was upset about the ensuing damage to his reputation. And he has a right to be. Still.

So Braun deserves praise for how he's handled this year. Even by September, when the Brewers traveled to Chicago to play a series against the Cubs, the New York Times reported Braun was still hearing taunts from fans such as "Ster-oids, ster-oids" or "Hey Ryan, I've got a syringe for you!" But that day -- same as he has all season long -- Braun refused to acknowledge the catcalls, let alone lash back. In the most expansive interview he gave on the topic all season, Braun told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports he truly viewed this season as an opportunity to "continue to do what I've done my whole career. I thought that was going to be the single-most important thing I could do to move forward and to get people to see I'm still the player -- if anything, better -- than I've ever been in the past."

In sum, if the yardstick is performance or personal behavior, it is hard to tell a difference between the Before version of Braun we had come to know -- the five-tool talent, popular teammate and model citizen who had decried PED use in the past -- and the After version of Braun that we've seen since the controversy blew up. He's played terrifically and comported himself even better despite the suspicions that have followed him since his appeal. Those are all facts, too.

So if voters think Braun had a better year than Buster Posey, or that the tiebreaker doesn't have to be that Posey's Giants made the playoffs while Braun's Brewers probably won't, they shouldn't hold the test fiasco against Braun.

They should go ahead and give the man the award.

But beyond that? I don't get the rush to proclaim that Braun's MVP caliber year categorically proves his innocence -- case closed, write it down in ink, call it a wrap.

Ryan Braun is a hell of a ballplayer who performed well enough to win another MVP award.

Leave it at that.

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Ryan Braun shouldn't be penalized in MVP vote

When it comes time for the ballots to be cast for the 2012 National League Most Valuable Player Award, Ryan Braun should receive exactly the same level of consideration as any other candidate.

What shouldn't happen is a hangover effect from a 2011 positive test for a performance-enhancing substance. And here is why:

Braun's 2012 performance speaks forcefully against the notion that he was on a PED last year. The 2011 season was an impressive campaign, as Braun led the Milwaukee Brewers to their first division title in 29 years and he was named the NL MVP. But this season he has been even better in some regards, and there have been no reports of failed drug tests in the process.

Braun has a career-high 40 home runs through Monday and leads the league in that category. He also leads the NL in slugging percentage and OPS and is tied for the lead in RBIs. He is performing above his career norms in most offensive categories. This is not the record of a man who had an MVP season while on PEDs and then tailed off markedly in the subsequent year.

On the issue of guilt vs. innocence, there has been an almost willful refusal in some quarters to acknowledge that the appeal process following the positive test exonerated Braun.

It is often stated by Braun's detractors that he "got off on a technicality." No. His test sample was ruled invalid because of serious irregularities in its handling. This was not a technicality. By a 2-1 vote, the panel hearing Braun's appeal voted that this test sample could not be considered valid, and therefore, Braun could not be considered guilty and could not be suspended for 50 games.

There have been other journalistic analyses of this case that have tried to make a mountain out of a semantic molehill by focusing on the difference between not guilty and innocent. Again, not quite. Braun won the case. He prevailed. He was the first player known to have successfully appealed a positive test. The arbitrator agreed with his position. The positive test was ruled invalid. And if you looked at the chain of custody for the evidence in this case, a different outcome would have been difficult to imagine.

Even beyond this, nobody outside the testing program should have known that there was a positive test in the first place. The entire process is supposed to be confidential. The positive test in Braun's case was not supposed to be public knowledge, but it was leaked to the media. Had this not happened, nobody would have known about the appeal hearing, either. And, in the absence of a finding upholding the positive test, nobody outside the process should have known about any portion of this case. The only time that any of this is supposed to become public is at the very end of the process, when the guilty party is named and the penalty is imposed. Since Ryan Braun was never found guilty, he and his reputation should have been spared this entire ordeal.

I'm not making an argument about the relative merits of the National League MVP candidates, other than to note that Braun obviously should be regarded as a legitimate, untainted candidate. If a long, objective, dispassionate look at the candidates convinces a majority of the voters that, for instance, Buster Posey of the Giants is the 2012 MVP, then so be it.

But the candidacy of Braun shouldn't be preempted because of a drug test that went through the duly appointed process and was found to be invalid. This is assuming guilt on the part of Braun that the process clearly failed to establish.

The process found that on the issue of this test you can regard Braun in one of two ways: innocent or, if you absolutely insist, not guilty. Either way, this episode is not one that can be fairly held against him.

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Ryan Braun commiserates with Rodgers

Cincinnati - Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun, as might be expected, talked to close friend Aaron Rodgers via telephone on Tuesday about the controversial ending to the Packers' game Monday night in Seattle.

Braun said he felt particularly bad because one game means so much more in an NFL season than in major league baseball, when you play 162 games.

"It's the equivalent of 10 games for us because it's a 16-game season. One game for them is like the difference in us going 10-0 or 0-10," said Braun. "It means so much more. When you think about that, it doesn't seem fair. It doesn't feel right. Everybody was mad, angry, disgusted.

"We all watched the game. We saw the same thing everybody else saw. Everybody knows what happened."

Braun said he was "not going to get into a personal conversation" with Rodgers but made it clear that the quarterback was frustrated both with the final controversial TD call as well as the Packers playing poorly enough to be in that situation.

"He felt like they shouldn't have put themselves in that position," said Braun. "He wished they had played better. But they'll be all right."

Of the entire spectacle after the game, as well as the NFL's use of replacement refs, Braun said, "It was an embarrassing scene. You want the guys who are most qualified out there with a game on the line.

"This is our livelihood, this is our profession. We take a tremendous amount of pride in what we do, and you want the people who have the best chance of getting the calls right to be making the calls. It makes me appreciate we don’t have to deal with replacement umpires at this level, because I can only imagine how frustrating it would be.

"You know they're going to do their best to make the right calls. I'm just glad we've never had to deal with replacement umpires. I can appreciate (the NFL players') frustration. Ultimately, as a player, we just hope they get the call right. It's all we've talked about today."

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who has met Packers coach Mike McCarthy, said he empathized with having to accept that kind of loss.

"If you look at the replay, I don't get it," said Roenicke. "That's one thing. When we look at replays here (on border calls), they never get it wrong (after reviewing it). I haven't seen one play that they got wrong after they went in and looked at it. So, come on. Once they go in and look at the replay, they always come back with the right call. Every single time. So, how do you go and look at the replay and come back with that?"

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Ryan Braun says this is his best season, but is it enough to make him the MVP again?

WASHINGTON -- Ask Ryan Braun if he's having a better year this year than last year, you'll get an answer.

"I'm probably having my best season," Braun said.

Ask Ryan Braun whether that means he should win a second straight MVP, good luck getting an answer.

Braun will praise the other contenders. He'll tell you that Buster Posey of the Giants "deserves the utmost credit." He'll say that Andrew McCutchen "has carried the Pirates on his back for a lot of the season."

But he won't even address the issue of whether the Brewers' late-season recovery helps his own chances of repeating. And don't even try to get him to say whether last winter's failed drug test and successful appeal will have any impact on the vote.

My own view: No matter what your view of the drug issue, it's crazy to carry it over to this year's MVP race. The award is about this season, not last year. This isn't like the Hall of Fame, where we're asked to assess careers. This is simply about who was most valuable in the 2012 season.

That said, if the race is close, it could take only one voter deciding to leave Braun off his ballot completely (voters pick 1-10 in the MVP race) to affect the result.

Now, is Braun the best candidate?

Again, the race is close. Whether he'll say it or not, the Brewers' revival has to help him. Voters who chose Braun over Matt Kemp last year because Kemp's Dodgers weren't contending could hardly have picked Braun if the Brewers had remained under .500 all season.

It could turn out that the failed drug test that hurts Braun isn't his own, but instead Melky Cabrera's. Posey's candidacy was certainly helped by the way he carried the Giants after they lost Cabrera in mid-August.

Whether Braun wins or not, he has definitely proved wrong those of us (me included) who predicted this spring that he was headed for a tough season. He may even be correct when he says he's been better in 2012 than he was in 2011.

"It's the consistency," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Ryan's had a great year, but Ryan hasn't had the type of month he had the first month or last month of last year."

Last year, Braun's month-to-month OPS went from a high of 1.181 in April to a low of .796 in May. This year, he hasn't been below .941 or above 1.009 in any month.

Overall, he's ahead of 2011 in home runs (40, up from 31), RBI (108, up from 104) and slugging percentage (.601, up from .584). He should end up higher in runs and stolen bases, and for now is close to even in on-base percentage.

He leads the league in home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS, and is tied for the lead in RBI and extra-base hits.

He topped 100 runs scored on Sunday, making him the only player in the major leagues with 100 runs and 100 RBI each of the last four years.

It's an MVP-type season, whether or not he actually wins the award again.

Is it his best season?

Judge for yourself, but Braun thinks it is.

That question he'll answer.

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Ryan Braun might be left off MVP ballots

More than one national baseball columnist has speculated that voters for the 2012 National League Most Valuable Player award might hold something against the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun.

The reason? His positive drug test from last October. The one that Braun got overturned on appeal. The one that was supposed to be confidential shy of a guilty verdict by an arbitrator. The one that has nothing to do with the 2012 season, when Braun has passed every drug test administered.

A sticky wicket, wouldn't you say?

The logic - if you can call it that - behind that line of thinking is that Braun was exonerated with a chain-of-command defense, considered by many a technicality. The test itself reportedly was not challenged, only the manner in which it was collected and delivered. Braun's camp, of course, contended those issues invalidated the test itself because tampering could have occurred with his urine sample during the delay in shipping.

Braun proclaimed his innocence from the very start but never revealed what he often referred to as "the true story." Some even suggested his 2011 NL MVP award be taken away, though his positive test was in October - for an extremely high level of testosterone - after ballots were cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America for the regular season.

Voters are going to do what they're going to do. But if any leave Braun off their 10-man ballot completely there will be some explaining to do because his offensive numbers absolutely make him a leading candidate to claim MVP honors again.

Beyond Braun's tremendous production, his candidacy is boosted by the Brewers' charge back into the playoff picture. In July, when the team was foundering and showing no reason to believe a charge was coming, Braun's numbers were not as compelling in an MVP sense.

Should the Brewers pull off their improbable push to the second wild-card berth, Braun's chances of winning will increase even more. But, just being in the chase makes him a bona fide MVP candidate.

Braun conceded after winning the award last year over Los Angeles' Matt Kemp that he was greatly aided by the Brewers winning the NL Central crown while the Dodgers went nowhere. How a team fares often plays a role in the voting when candidates are close because players are given credit for performing with more at stake.

Which brings us to San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, who has been gaining steam in the MVP debate. The Giants are safely on top in the NL West and Posey has been a big reason for that status as a dynamic offensive player in an otherwise mundane lineup.

Posey is a shoo-in for NL comeback player of the year after suffering a devastating leg injury last year in a collision at the plate. That factor, along with playing the key role of No. 1 catcher, will boost his candidacy.

But how does Posey's offensive production compare with Braun's? He has a big lead in batting average - .335 to .315 entering Saturday - but Braun had better numbers in nearly every other category: 40 to 23 in home runs, 107 to 96 in RBI , 332 to 272 in total bases, 98 to 74 in runs scored, .599 to .545 in slugging percentage, .989 to .954 in OPS and 29 to one in stolen bases. Posey had a .409 on-base percentage to .390 for Braun.

On numbers alone, Braun has the edge over Posey. He leads the league in homers, RBI, slugging, total bases and OPS. Accordingly, if Posey gets much stronger support than Braun in the BBWAA balloting, something else likely is in play. That scenario would indicate some voters believe Braun escaped a 50-game suspension to start the season merely through good lawyering. And MLB did him no favors by firing arbitrator Shyam Das in outrage after the verdict.
Anyone who has watched Braun over his first six seasons in the majors realizes he doesn't need artificial help in pummeling pitchers. Aramis Ramirez, who bats behind Braun in the Brewers' lineup, recently gave his teammate a ringing endorsement.

"He's the best player I ever played with," Ramirez said. "It's not because of the homers. It's everything. He can steal a base whenever he needs to. He plays good defense.

"I don't know about being a better hitter (than in 2011) but he's having a better year. He has hit 40 home runs and over 100 RBI. He's going to score over 100 runs again. He can do everything."

While Braun's candidacy has been bolstered by the Brewers' run, Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen has been harmed by the Pirates' folding act down the stretch. Had the Pirates marched into the playoffs as they once appeared destined to do, McCutchen likely would have been the MVP favorite.
McCutchen certainly has the credentials for strong consideration - a .338 batting average entering Saturday, 30 home runs, 92 RBI, 102 runs scored, .408 OBP, .567 slugging percentage, league-best 186 hits.

There has been some talk about St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina being in the discussion. He is having a fine season but nothing like Braun, Posey or McCutchen. It's a three-horse race, and Braun's numbers should have him in the lead by at least a nose.

Two baseball writers representing each NL city vote for the NL MVP. The  ballots are due before the postseason but the results are not announced until after the World Series.

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Ryan Braun playing through injuries

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke confirmed that Ryan Braun is playing through "a couple of groin issues."

"He's just OK," Roenicke said. "He's going out there because he knows we need it. It's easy during the season; you just give him a day off. It's a little difficult right now to say that." Braun, who's looking to repeat as the National League MVP, was spotted noticeably limping after Friday's game. With the Brewers back in playoff contention, however, he’s not likely to miss any time.

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Ryan Braun swipes three bases in win over Pirates

Ryan Braun tallied three of the Brewers' seven stolen bases in Tuesday's critical 6-0 victory over the Pirates.

He finished the night 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. The Brewers clearly had no respect for Pirates catcher Rod Barajas, as they were successful in all six of their stolen base attempts against him, then added another off Michael McKenry. Braun is hitting .314/.389/.601 with 40 homers, 104 RBI and 27 steals this season.

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Ryan Braun vs. Miguel Cabrera: Prince Fielder weighs in

As Miguel Cabrera or Ryan Braun vie for MVP honors in their respective leagues, it’s a good time to ask the question: Who’s the better hitter?

Cabrera leads the majors with a .992 OPS, three percentage points ahead of Braun, who is second at the moment. Cabrera has an edge in average, at .330 to .312. Braun holds the lead in power, with 40 homers to 38. Cabrera has scored 96 runs, Braun 95.

So based on their numbers, it’s a tough call.

Based on observing the two hitters from the on-deck circle, it’s not much easier. Ask Prince Fielder. He hit behind Braun with the Brewers before signing with the Tigers, where he now hits behind Cabrera.

“Both are different but they get similar results,” Fielder said recently. “I don’t look at them as power hitters but as great hitters with power. Both hit for average, drive in runs and hit for power.”

Yes, but who’s better? Fielder didn’t directly answer the question, but you can judge for yourself based on two insights. One has to do with approach, the other with ballparks.

— “Miguel has more of a contact hitter’s swing, which is unbelievable because of how much power he has,” Fielder said. “That makes him much more dangerous than a lot of people in baseball. It’s almost like he can manipulate a single as well as a home run or a ball hit to the bap. Whatever he feels like doing, he can do.” Indeed, Cabrera has struck out 30 fewer times than Braun, 118-88.

— “To do what Miguel has done in Comerica Park isn’t easy,” Fielder said. “That’s a big credit to be able to do the kind of things he does in a park that wasn’t made for hitting as far as power goes.”

Comerica has yielded 143 homers this season, 14th most in the majors. Miller Park has given up 208 homers, which was tied with U.S. Cellular Field for most in the majors going into the week.

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Ryan Braun, through it all, is playing like an innocent man

Ryan Braun has his home run swing back. How many more bombs will it take for him to get his good name back?

Instead of Ryan Braun the Cheater, it’s time to restore him as Ryan Braun the Phenomenon. I still halfway cringe at the thought, but Braun is not leaving us much choice.

Milwaukee’s left fielder hit two more home runs on Sunday, giving him 40 for the season and 201 for his career. That’s pretty compelling proof he’s innocent as he proclaimed of taking performance-enhancing drugs last season.

Either that, or Braun is the most defiant cheater in baseball history. Not only did he juice his way to an MVP award last year. He’s still taking PEDs despite the suffocating scrutiny brought on by last year’s failed drug test.

If you think that, nothing Braun does or say is going to change your mind. But I just can’t believe he is that audacious or stupid. And I wanted him to turn into Ryan Seacrest this season.

I wanted him to hit four home runs and get thrown out every time he tried to steal a base. That would enough circumstantial evidence to convict him of what most of us suspected.

You remember the O.J.-like tale. Braun was the first post-Steroid Era super slugger. Then he failed a drug test with what a source said was an “insanely high” level of testosterone.

Braun said the procedure was flawed. The collector didn’t send the urine sample to the lab within 24 hours because the FedEx outlets were closed for the weekend.

When they made it to the lab, the samples were still sealed. There was no indication of tampering. An objective juror would still consider such evidence.
Braun lawyered up and became the first player to have a testing conviction overturned. But the whole thing felt like O.J. or Casey Anthony.

He wasn’t innocent. He just beat the rap.

“I am innocent,” Braun insisted after being cleared.

Yeah, right.

Braun was baseball’s version of Ray Donovan. He was the Labor Secretary in the Reagan Administration who was indicted on larceny and fraud charges.
He resigned in 1985 and spent the next two years in legal battles. Donovan was eventually acquitted of all charges, but the damage was done. He stood outside a Bronx courtroom and famously said, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”

In February, an arbitration panel voted 2-1 to clear Braun. Laughter and derision could be heard all over spring training. Major League Baseball was so incensed it fired longtime arbitrator Shyan Das.

“It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation,” Braun said.

He knew what the next step had to be. He had to go to his old office and conduct business as usual. In 2011, that meant 33 home runs, 113 RBI and a .332 batting average.

A drop-off would be more incriminating than a drug test. It would fail the smell test, the same one that had us holding our noses over guys like Brady Anderson, Bret Boone, Pudge Rodriguez, Jose Guillen and Jason Giambi.

They weren’t all suspended or even directly linked to PEDs. But their statistics were just too fishy. Clean players simply aren’t supposed to turn into Hank Aaron overnight, and then revert to Tommie Aaron after the PED police pay a visit.

Clean players are consistent, and Braun has remained Hank. He’s actually slugging better than 2011 despite not having Prince Fielder batting behind him.
His stats after Sunday: 40 homers, 103 RBI, a .312 batting average and a couple million skeptics.

There’s still suspicion, so much that last year’s MVP might not even finish in the top five this season. But at this point, what more can Braun do?
He was cleared by the system. The whole thing was supposed to be confidential to begin with, but Braun’s name was leaked.

That was the first step in a good name going bad. The only way to get it back was to play like the Braun of old.

Players may lie, but numbers don’t. Braun not only sounds like an innocent man, he’s hitting like one.

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Ryan Braun hits 2 milestone homers

Ryan Braun, Brewers: Braun hit two homers on Sunday, giving him 201 for his career and a career-high 40 this season. Only four active players have reached 200 homers in fewer games than Braun's 867 -- Ryan Howard (658), Albert Pujols (788), Adam Dunn (822) and Alex Rodriguez (826).

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Ryan Braun plays through wrist pain

Beyond facing a make-or-break three-week stretch to end the season with Corey Hart sidelined with a foot injury, the Brewers are monitoring all-star leftfielder Ryan Braun's ailing right wrist.

Braun took himself out of the game Sunday in St. Louis when he aggravated the strained wrist with which he has been dealing for some time. He returned to the lineup for the home series against Atlanta but went 0 for 6 in the first two games and didn't look quite the same at the plate. Braun rebounded to go 2 for 5 Wednesday in the finale.

Braun downplayed the issue, saying, "Everybody has something this time of the year. Nobody's 100%. You just deal with it."

Manager Ron Roenicke was more forthcoming about Braun's ailing wrist, saying, "It's affecting him. Some days seem better than others. Some at-bats are better than others. I'm hoping the day off tomorrow will help and the day off Monday.

"There's a big difference when he's 100%. It's incredible. You guys see what he can do. When you have something wrong with your hands or wrists, it's difficult to feel like you can wait back and still stay as strong."

Braun has played with nagging injuries at times during his career without affecting his status as one of the elite offensive performers in the game. He currently ranks at or near the top in nearly every important category in the NL, so it remains to be seen how much the wrist will hamper him over the final three weeks.

Braun sent an opposite-field drive into the right-field corner in the third inning, but Jason Heyward made a leaping catch against the wall to rob him of at least an extra-base hit and perhaps a home run. He then singled in two of his last three at-bats.

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Ryan Braun for NL MVP: A strong case can be made

The tables have turned on Ryan Braun.

We’re talking about the National League MVP race, a race Braun won last season. He is having the best offensive season in the league this season (really, it isn’t even that close). He clearly has been the best player.

There are a few “buts” in this argument, however. Braun’s Milwaukee Brewers are at .500 and are creeping into playoff contention. Then there is that whole positive-testosterone-test thing he must overcome. Finally, there is another legitimate contender for the award: San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, who plays for a division leader.

Braun was in the opposite position last season when Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp had a better individual season—even by Braun’s admission—but the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters dinged Kemp for playing for a non-contender and gave the award to Braun.

If voters hold true to their “standards” and “integrity,” Braun won’t win the NL MVP Award this season. But he should. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe the MVP absolutely has to come from a playoff team, and I supported Kemp last season. It basically comes down to each person’s definition of “valuable.&rdquoWinking

Let’s examine those standards, which tend to change from year to year depending on the player in question. Braun is well liked by some members of the media. He smiles big, he usually grants interviews to those who work for national outlets and he really hasn’t done anything wrong on or off the field (yes, we’ll get to that later). Baseball writers can be a fickle bunch, and an engaging personality is all some need to love a player for life.

That alone can be enough for some to overlook that Braun currently plays for a non-contender. At 71-71, Milwaukee is four games out of the second wild card spot, tied with the Philadelphia Phillies and behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. That makes four teams the Brewers must outlast.
That doesn’t qualify as contention with 20 games to play, unless, of course, you’re trying to make a case for Braun or the Brewers. Then it is plenty of time and they are serious contenders because they have won 17 of their past 22 games. For those referencing the Atlanta Braves’ collapse last September, the Cardinals were 8 1/2 games back in the wild-card chase last season with 21 games remaining. And they also had the San Francisco Giants in front of them.
The MVP voting doesn’t have to be done until the end of the season. If Braun’s team doesn’t contend for a wild card, he won’t win the award—based on voting trends last season and in other seasons. Even Braun knows this.

“Speaking from experience, I think the main reason I won the award last year was that our team had more success. I think Matt (Kemp) had a better year, individually,” Braun told CBSSports.com during the All-Star break.

If the Brewers sneak into the postseason, Braun will be the clear-cut MVP and voters should reflect that sentiment. But that isn’t guaranteed to happen.
And in walks the integrity argument. We have seen how the BBWAA treats players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame but have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or have been “suspected” of using them—regardless of who is doing the suspecting.

Braun falls into that category. He tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the playoffs last October. There is no disputing that. Not even Braun really disputed that in his appeal, choosing instead to attack the chain of custody. He won the appeal, but the word “technicality” forever will be attached to that victory (rightfully so). Braun never has publically addressed the actual positive sample, which the Montreal-based anti-doping lab said wasn’t tampered with.
In the aftermath of the positive test, many in the BBWAA (I am a member but didn’t vote for MVP) believed they had egg on their faces after voting for Braun. Some felt duped. Others, for some reason, felt betrayed. Some won’t ever vote for Braun again—for anything.

But again, Braun is a little different. In most of those Hall of Fame cases, the players being rallied against had a contentious relationship with the media at one time or another. Unfortunately, some BBWAA members can hold onto a grudge like a pit bull latching onto a T-bone.

But Braun doesn’t lend himself to a grudge on a national level for all the reasons already noted. He probably always will have that going for him. As a result, some of his transgressions either will be overlooked or voters will be more apt to say, “Hey, he won his appeal so he isn’t a cheat in my mind.”

Actually, there is nothing wrong with that. Braun did win the appeal, so if a voter chooses to not hold the positive test against him, that voter is well within his/her rights.

Braun leads the league OPS (.980) and homers (38), and he is second in RBIs (100), runs (92) and slugging (.595). He also is the No. 1 reason the Brewers’ offense has been so good despite losing Prince Fielder to free agency, losing others sluggers to injuries and dealing with some underachieving seasons from some regulars. He has even turned himself into an adequate left fielder.

Braun is the best player in the league this season, and the knocks against him are limited. But the ones that do exist might be enough to keep him from a second consecutive MVP award, an honor that should be his.

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Ryan Braun: 'My performance hasn't changed'

Three weeks remain in the regular season, but it might seem like an eternity to Major League Baseball, with the prospect of a batting title and MVP award being clouded by doping controversies.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the first player known to successfully appeal a positive drug test, is emerging as a strong candidate for National League MVP, leading the NL with a career-high 38 homers along with a .313 average and 100 RBI entering Monday.

It's likely the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera will win the NL batting title while serving a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. Cabrera, who will finish at .346, entered Monday five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates'Andrew McCutchen.

As McCutchen's Pirates slip from contention, Braun's chances of a second consecutive MVP grow, with perhaps Giants catcher Buster Posey his prime competition. Braun denies his achievements should be lumped with Cabrera's.

"People are going to form whatever opinions they have,â??â?? Braun told USA TODAY Sports, "and I couldn't care less what they are. There are obviously significant differences. People forget, I didn't do it. I was exonerated. I was exonerated because I didn't do it."

Cabrera dropped his appeal and was suspended Aug. 15. Braun won his appeal of an October 2011 positive test for testosterone. MLB insists that was because of a chain-of-custody issue regarding Braun's sample, but Braun says he simply didn't use testosterone.

"I haven't gotten any bigger, faster or stronger," he says. "Really, my performance hasn't changed."â??

In a survey of NL MVP voters, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles was the only one who said he might weight Braun's situation in his balloting, saying in an e-mail, "Even if there is only the perception that he has used illicit means to reach his level of play, in this era, we have to use all of the evidence afforded us."
Others, such as Hall of Fame honoree Tracy Ringolsby, won't consider his test result. "Braun," Ringolsby says, "has proven his ability without any cloud. I would consider him without reservations."

Braun,who won the NL MVP last year a month before ESPN revealed that he failed a drug test during the postseason, believes the Brewers' NL Central title gave him the advantage over Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp for the award. Kemp had slightly better offensive numbers, but the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs.

This year, the Brewers remain long shots to reach a playoff berth this year. Catchers Posey and Yadier Molina of the wild-card leading St. Louis Cardinals are expected to receive serious consideration, as well as outfielders Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds.

"I try not to pay too much attention to handicapping it," Braun says, "but Yadi has got to be in it. I feel like Yadi literally influences the game more than any position player I play against."

Yet, if the Cardinals don't reach the postseason, Molina's support may wane, as well.

"It's a difficult vote because there's no specific criteria," Braun says. "How do you define that vote? Is it the best player? Is it the best player on the best team? What exactly is it? So it leaves it open to interpretation.

"I just think that teams that are in the pennant race, and ultimately go to the postseason, those guys deserve extra credit.

"I said that last year, and I'm saying that this year. I'll always believe that."

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Can Ryan Braun win MVP again?

It's been a long, long, road for the Milwaukee Brewers to get to September within shouting distance of the .500 mark. Their 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 1 moved the Brewers to 64-68, the first time the team has been that close to level since July 18, when they were 44-47.

Following Tuesday night's game against Miami, the Brewers sit at 66-69.

Sure, there can be dreams of making a wildcard run here over the next four weeks, but the real race of interest is Ryan Braun and the quest for back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.

Through Monday, Braun led the league in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, OPS (on base plus slugging) and total bases.

He trails New York Mets third basemen David Wright in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by a hair – 5.9 to 5.8. He is sixth in the NL in batting average, hits and on base percentage.

Defensively, Braun leads all NL left fielders in range factor and is 15th among all outfielders in the league.

Is his season as good as last year's? In some statistical categories, yes. And no. Considering who else (and who isn't) in the lineup with him however, you can argue this is his greatest season.

The big question with MVP races – unless it's so clear cut there is no debate – is who else is competing for the trophy.

This year, the National League has a mess of players that could garner some MVP consideration. Let's take a look*.

The first place teams: Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco.
Stephen Strasburg: It's incredibly difficult for a pitcher to win the MVP as it is, but missing the final two and a half weeks of the Nationals' season knocks him out of consideration.

Johnny Cueto: The 26-year-old righty has been magnificent for the Reds, but no position player on his team has really stepped to the forefront. It's been a total team effort since 2010 MVP went on the disabled list back in mid-July.

Bob Gibson was the last NL pitcher to win the MVP, back in 1968. Sandy Koufax (1963), Don Newcombe (1956), Jim Konstanty (1950), Mort Cooper (1942), Bucky Walters (1939), Carl Hubbell (1936, 1933) and Dizzy Dean (1934) are the only pitchers to ever win the award in the National League.

Melky Cabrera: Woops. The All-Star game MVP was hitting a league-leading .346 along with 25 extra base hits and 60 RBI before being suspended for testing positives for PEDs.

So that leaves...
Buster Posey: The 25-year-old catcher is hitting .330 with 19 homers and 85 RBI with an OPS of .938 while handling a pitching staff that sports a team 3.72 ERA and four starters with 10 or more wins.

Posey would be in my top three down the stretch.

The wildcard teams: Atlanta, St. Louis
Chipper Jones/ Jason Heyward/Michael Bourn: Like the first place teams, the Braves have been getting it done as a team. These players have been their best, but none are having stand out, MVP-type seasons. Heyward has 24 homers with an .834 OPS. Jones may be a sentimental favorite in his final season, but he's hitting .302 with 14 homers and a .881 OPS. Bourn has 38 stolen bases. Neither are really carrying the team, however.

Allen Craig/David Freese/Matt Holliday/Carlos Beltran/Yadier Molina: All are having fine years, but again it's proving to be a team effort in St. Louis. Molina leads the team in hitting at .322, Beltran in homers at 28, Holliday in RBI at 92 and Craig in OPS at .922. Has one been more distinguished than the other? No.
Teams with winning records: Los Angeles, Pittsburgh

Matt Kemp: Kemp famously lost out to Braun last year, but injuries have limited him to just 82 games. He's hitting .326/.570/.965 with 18 homers and 55 RBI, but he just can't compare with a guy who has played 40 more games ...

Like his teammate Andre Ethier. The 30-year-old right fielder has the best case, hitting .293/.472/.834 with 16 homers, 32 doubles and 79 RBI. He's been the one constant threat in the Dodgers lineup all year long. He's just not that spectacular however.

Andrew McCutcheon: The first half favorite for MVP as the Pirates shot out of the gate, the 25-year-old centerfielder is still going strong despite Pittsburgh's backslide to mediocrity. He's going to challenge the suspended Cabrera for the batting title, hitting .341/.559/.964 with 24 homers, 80 RBI and 54 extra base hits.

This is the one player Braun will have the hardest time overcoming, especially if McCutcheon can get the Pirates to just 82 wins – the team's first winning season since 1992.

McCutcheon, along with Posey and Braun, are the three runaway contenders at this point.

There is only one real reason voters would look past Braun completely (or at least with key first place votes) is that the Brewers may finish with a losing record.
The MVP has been awarded to a player on a losing team five times in history and three times in the NL. Interestingly, all three of those winners were Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks (1958, 1959) and Andre Dawson (1987).

Alex Rodriguez (2003) and Cal Ripken, Jr. (1991) won on losing teams in the AL.

But what if the Brewers keep up this trend and finish with a better record than the Pirates, climbing all the way back from 12 games under .500 on Aug. 15. That's when people will look closely at all the blown saves by bullpen – and that just a 50-percent conversion rate would have won the Brewers a playoff berth. That may be one of Braun's better defenses – the Crew missing the playoffs simply had nothing to do with him.

Sure, people will bring up the offseason "positive" test for PEDs, but count me in the camp that says if he was afforded the same privacy as every other player – suspended or not – no one would have known about the process in the first place.

True – you can't "un-know" what you know - but he won the appeal due to a tampered sample. That should be the end of that, but I know some stodgy BBWAA voters will not see it that way, or feel duped by voting for him in 2011.

Right now, I'd say Braun is running behind Posey for the award. I do feel that he has to go out and win it – maybe finish in the top three in batting average while finishing atop the other important stat categories. He'll have to make it impossible for voters to overlook him.

Perhaps the biggest question of all is this – can he do that all in four weeks?

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Ryan Braun Leads Brewers Over Marlins

Gorkys Hernandez hit his first career home run, Giancarlo Stanton crushed his 30th of the season and A.J. Ramos made a stellar major-league debut — becoming the first Marlins pitcher to strike out the side in his first big-league appearance.

But much like everything else this season for the Marlins season, not much good was made of it.

Former University of Miami standout and reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun led a barrage of big Brewers’ hits as Milwaukee rallied for an 8-4 victory in front of 23,403 at Marlins Park on Tuesday night.

Braun smacked a 400-foot RBI double to center in the first and then a 40-foot nubber down the third-base line in the seventh to ruin what had been a nice rally by the Marlins, and what could have been a victory for Wade LeBlanc. Norichika Aoki and Jeff Bianchi, meanwhile, each homered and drove in three runs for the Brewers, who rallied with five runs off the Marlins bullpen.

“[Braun’s hit] hurt a little bit, but that’s part of the game,” Guillen said. “The bullpen struggled. It’s kind of hard to keep the lead. We tried to put the best matchup out there. But they couldn’t do the job. The only good thing about the bullpen [Tuesday] was the kid.”

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For Ryan Braun, call this a valuable lesson

Reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun leads the league in home runs and RBIs and is sixth with a .311 batting average. His .999 OPS is also tops in the NL.

While those numbers normally would make him the front-runner to repeat as league MVP, Braun is not exactly at the top of everyone's list.

Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Matt Holliday and even Aroldis Chapman have been mentioned as candidates over Braun.

That's what happens when a player tests positive for elevated testosterone. Even though Braun's 50-game suspension was later overturned by an arbitrator, his reputation was tarnished.

Having another MVP-caliber season while being highly scrutinized may be proof that Braun's production was not reliant on the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

But the damage has been done. Braun may have been able to avoid that 50-game suspension, but he certainly will be penalized by the voters for this year's MVP.

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Ryan Braun surpasses his 2011 home run total

While the baseball world fixates on Bartolo Colon's suspension for his positive testosterone test, a bit of old business from the world of baseball doping:
Ryan Braun has already exceeded his home run total for 2011.

Braun smacked his 34th home run Wednesday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs, continuing a stellar season that nearly matches - and may ultimately surpass - his National League MVP effort from a year ago.

He's on pace for 45 home runs, which would obliterate his career high of 37.

At the end of 2011, of course, Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, but he avoided a 50-game suspension in 2012 when his appeal was upheld by an independent arbitrator.

Braun faced much skepticism that he was actually clean, facing far more doubt nationwide than he did, naturally, in Milwaukee.

Now, he's put up another MVP-caliber season, which he will surely point to as further evidence that exonerates him.

The segment of the baseball world that only grows more skeptical might beg to differ.

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Ryan Braun looking for answers

Even Ryan Braun couldn't remember the last time he participated in early batting practice.

"It's been a long time," said Braun, who could remember only one other time he took early BP since his rookie year in 2007.

Yet, there Braun was Thursday, taking swings with a group of teammates at Miller Park as he looks for answers to break out of a prolonged slump that prompted manager Ron Roenicke to sit him out Wednesday in Colorado.

"I'm big on my routine. I've always said you don't have control over results, focus on process that whole thing," said Braun, who is batting .143 with no homers since Aug. 1. "So, I don't like to break my routine too often. But, every once in a while, if things aren't going too well, it makes sense to come out and take a little extra BP.

"I normally hit off a tee and take soft-toss stuff every day before a game, so thats the equivalent of extra work. So, I don't normally do it. So, we'll see if it will help." 

Braun normally does stretching and workout routines before regular batting practice, a process of which he is a devout follower.

"The only time I'll do baseball stuff is right before the game," he says. "I'll do soft-toss, tee work before the game. I haven't taken extra BP on the field for years. I'm always quality over quantity. I don't like doing too much. You can only do so much of it.

"Plus, you can only really focus on baseball for so long and keep up the intensity and focus that makes it worthwhile. At some point, you can take a million swings but if you're not doing them correctly, you're building bad muscle memory. I've just never been a fan of quantity over quality." 

Braun said when you come up as a rookie, you almost have to participate in early BP as part of your transition to the majors. Since then, he could remember doing it just one other time but couldn't recall the exact situation.

"I took early BP pretty often in '07, not because I wanted to or felt like I was accomplishing anything but because I felt obligated," said Braun. "So much of baseball, the coaches want you to do things because they justify the fact that the players are working as hard as they can."

As for what's going on now," Braun said, "I feel good. BP is not the problem. I'm hitting 1.000 in BP. I'm dominating batting practice every day.

"It's a challenging game. You look at Albert Pujols, the greatest hitter of our generation and arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all time, and for the first five weeks he hit under .200 with no home runs. You look at Josh Hamilton. He was as good as anybody ever for the first two months of the season and then for two months he hit under .200. It's a really challenging game.

"You try to keep your sanity when you're going bad; you try to figure out what's going on. But I think a lot of times guys get themselves in trouble when they start trying to make too many changes. When you have a track record, you believe in what you do. I've proven to myself that what I do works. When I'm not going good, I don't want to make drastic changes; I don't need to make drastic changes.

"There's always subtle changes. I've always said the biggest challenge for me is plate discipline. It's not something that's ever come easy for me. When I'm going good, I'm swinging at good pitches. When I'm not, I'm getting myself out. Every once in a while you face a pitcher who's locked in and makes good pitches, and there's not a lot you can do about it. But, more often at not, I've felt like when I'm going good and swinging at good pitches, success is inevitable."

Braun did say that he feels healthy now. He has had nagging problems in the past and they often play a role when he's not going good at the plate.

"I feel good physically," he said. "As long as that happens, it's only a matter of time."

Braun said his initial reaction was not to sit out Wednesday but then realized it might be best.

"At some point, you can only continue to do the same thing for so long and not contribute, and not help the team have success before it makes sense to do something like that," he said. "I always want to play. You want to be in there every single day. It's not an issue of being tired or being hurt or being sore or anything like that. A lot of time it makes more sense to play through it but (Roenicke) thought it was a good idea and eventually I agreed."

Though Braun remains a confident player -- always -- Roenicke said it's only natural for any player to suffer some loss of confidence during a long period of struggle.

"This has been a long stretch for him," said Roenicke. "I don't know if he's had a couple of weeks like this I didn't see him early in his career. I know he didn't have any (long droughts) last year. He might have had two or three games, and that was it.

"I think no matter who the person is, when you fail for any period of time, there's a confidence issue there. That's why you stop seeing the ball so well. When you're confident and relaxed, your vision is better. It's proven that your vision is better.

"When you lose a little bit of that, he hasn't walked in a long time, he's been chasing pitches out of the zone. I think that has to do with the whole thing -- vision, confidence, everything."

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Any more questions? Ryan Braun answers doubters

First came the news that Ryan Braun's partner in the middle of the Milwaukee lineup, Prince Fielder, had followed the free-agent path of riches to Detroit.

Then came the confidentiality breech that made public the fact Braun was appealing a positive drug test.

Then there was the reality that even though his appeal was upheld and suspension was lifted, Braun's reputation was tainted forever in the minds that feel an allegation is a fact.

Finally, the season began.

And finally Ryan Braun is smiling again and talking again and producing runs like he always has, having handled the offseason turmoil professionally and productively.

Braun knew there was only one way to answer the doubters.

"I had to go out and put up the numbers I have put up in the past," he said.

His answer has been resounding.

Braun went into Wednesday leading the National League with 29 home runs, seven more than he had a year ago after 115 games. He is tied for fourth with 77 RBIs, six more than at this time last season. He even has 19 stolen bases, one shy of allowing him to enter the 20-20 club for the third time in his career, and 10th time in Brewers history.

He's only hitting .299, 27 points behind a year ago, but he does rank 10th in the NL, and face it, without Fielder's left-handed power bat behind him, Braun is being pitched to much more carefully. Yes, Aramis Ramirez is having a nice year hitting fourth for the Brewers, but he's right-handed, so right-handed pitchers are less likely to work around Braun than they were a year ago when the alternative was Fielder.

Bottom line: Braun has driven his offseason issues into the outfield seats.

His mission is far from accomplished.

The Brewers are not even in the mix to defend their NL Central title, facing a 17 1/2-game deficit. That, however, is more of a bullpen issue. The Brewers have, after all, suffered a league-leading 22 late losses, and lead the Majors with 22 blown saves.

"That is what we play the game for -- to win, to help our team," said Braun. "We all think of things we could have done to be better."

And there will be the haters who won't give up in their harassment of Braun for what happened.

"Every year you deal with unique challenges," he said.

Braun has handled the challenge well.

He was, however, silent for the longest of times. Always in the middle of the clubhouse scene, and cooperative with the media, Braun was barely even seen in the Brewers' clubhouse during Spring Training, and was rarely heard from. And when he did speak, it was a very controlled environment.

Once he initially responded to the fact he won the appeal, and made it clear he was unhappy to have been a media punching bag in the offseason, Braun declined interviews in general, speaking only about a day's game after it was over.

"It wasn't going to do anybody any good to continue the debate," he said. "I felt I had said everything that needed to be said. I respect that people have a job to do, and [I] cooperated with the media and fans, but just felt that would be too big of a fuss. I needed to focus on taking care of business."

After a season-opening stumble -- hitting .245 with one home run and five RBIs two weeks into the season -- Braun got into a comfort zone.

Oh, there was hazing in ballparks in which he was a visiting player, but Braun said there was nothing overboard.

"I was ready for that," he said. "When people brought up how fans might react, I knew they hadn't been to Wrigley Field or Philadelphia or Busch Stadium.

"Truth is that [fan reaction] makes me play better. It keeps you focused. I've enjoyed that throughout my career. [Fans] can be creative."

And Braun has proven that he can be every bit as productive on the baseball field this year as he has ever been in his career.

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Ryan Braun certain he'll break out of mini-slump

DENVER -- The longest home run drought of Ryan Braun's 2012 season just happens to come with him sitting on 29 home runs. Perhaps it is a coincidence. Perhaps not.

"When you get close to a number, I don't think you necessarily try to force yourself to get there, but you are absolutely conscious of it," Braun said. "Anybody who says they're not, he's lying. Guys say, 'Oh, I didn't even know I was at 99 RBIs.'

"Yeah, right."

He spoke while stretching in the clubhouse, part of Braun's extensive pregame routine that begins hours before batting practice, and includes weight work, stretching and dips in hot and cold tubs. None of that has changed.

"I've said it many times: It's all part of this game," Braun said of his mini-slump. "You go through stretches where you're really good, stretches where you're not so good, and you try to keep your sanity in those bad times."

Braun has been enduring some relative bad times, which have been rare in his defense of the National League MVP Award. Including Tuesday's 0-for-5 in an 8-6 loss to the Rockies, he is homerless in 49 plate appearances and 47 at-bats since engaging Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez in a 14-pitch battle at Miller Park on Aug. 1 that finally ended with a line-drive home run, Braun's NL-best 29th this season.

Since that home run, Braun is 9-for-47 with four doubles, four RBIs and no home runs, for a .191 batting average in that span. On Tuesday, he struck out in the eighth inning and the Brewers trailing, 8-3. He flied out to end the game, representing the go-ahead run.

But Braun astutely points out that this is not his first stretch approximating a "slump" this season. He endured an 8-for-39 stretch with no home runs in April. He came out of that funk with an April 21 home run against the Rockies, then surged into the All-Star Game with 23 homers in his next 67 games.

"For the most part, I've been really consistent through most of this season," Braun said. "My numbers, month to month, have been really consistent. It just lets me know that the longer I don't go good, the higher the likelihood is that I will have a good game and get locked back in.

"I feel good. As long as I feel good, physically, I'm fine. I have no doubt that I'm going to finish the season strong."

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Ryan Braun ends slump with RBI double

MILWAUKEE - Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker decided to pitch to Ryan Braun and it cost the Reds the game.

Braun snapped a 0-for-18 slump with an RBI double in the eighth inning, lifting the Brewers to a three-game sweep of Cincinnati with a 3-2 win Wednesday.
"You're in a situation where you've got to face Braun or Aramis Ramirez," Baker said. "Aramis is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now. So we chose to pitch to Braun and he blooped it in front of (Chris) Heisey out there."

Jonathan Broxton (1-1) started the eighth with the Reds leading 2-1. He retired the first two batters before an infield single by Norichka Aoki. With Carlos Gomez up to bat, Aoki stole second and took third on catcher Dioner Navarro's throwing error. Gomez hit a soft liner over the outstretched glove of shortstop Wilson Valdez and Aoki scored to tie the game.

Gomez stole second and Braun followed with a hit that fell in front of the Reds' center fielder.

"There aren't too many better ways than to help your team win a game," Braun said. "Certainly not the first time I've struggled; it won't be the last. But it's never enjoyable when you go through something like that. It's always nice to get a hit. It's that much more enjoyable when it happens in a victory and a big situation."

Braun came in batting .304 but had struggled at the plate in the three-game series against St. Louis and was hitless against Cincinnati. Ramirez has seen his batting average climb to .295 and leads the NL in extra base hits (54) and doubles (37).

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Ryan Braun hits 29th home run to lead Brewers past Astros

MILWAUKEE -- Don't tell Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers that time is running out to get back in the playoff race.

Braun hit his NL-leading 29th homer and the Brewers connected four times Wednesday, beating the sloppy Houston Astros 13-4 to complete a three-game sweep.

The defending NL Central champions began the day 15 games behind first-place Cincinnati and 12 out in the wild-card standings.

"There's no reason to give up," Braun said. "Why are you going to give up, ever? I think until you're mathematically eliminated, you're going to continue to believe you have a chance. There's a lot of crazy things that have happened throughout the course of the history of this game."

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Ryan Braun Leads NL in HRs

Ryan Braun hit safely in all six games of the Brewers' just completed trip (.440, 11 for 25). He also maintained his National League lead by hitting his 28th home run in the eighth inning Wednesday, tying the game at 5-5.

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Ryan Braun has three hits, HR in loss to Phillies

Ryan Braun's impressive season continued on Tuesday as he went 3-for-4 with a homer in a loss to the Phillies.

Braun also scored three times in the game. While his chances of repeating as the National League MVP are slim with the Brewers unlikely to make a playoff push, there's no denying that Braun is having another tremendous campaign. He's now hitting .313 with 27 bombs, 67 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

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Ryan Braun gets to 1,000 hits faster than Rose

Cincinnati - Ryan Braun didn't realize he got to 1,000 hits quicker than all-time hits leader Pete Rose until informed by Brewers media relations director Mike Vassallo.

"That's pretty cool," said the all-star leftfielder. "I had never really thought of it in that context because I had no idea how fast it had taken anybody else to get there."

Braun reached the 1,000-hit plateau Friday night by collecting singles in his first two at-bats against Cincinnati's Homer Bailey, who allowed only six hits in eight innings of the Reds' 3-1 victory. He got there in his 815th game, the earliest of any player in franchise history. Rose recorded his 1,000th hit in his 831st game.

Braun had the ball retrieved for his trophy room back in Malibu, Calif.

"When you play this game every day, you rarely have time to reflect on what you're doing," said Braun. "It certainly has gone by really fast.

"I'm sure at some point after the season I'll be able to look back and appreciate it. Special moments like that you have to embrace because you deal with so much adversity, so much failure, so much negativity in playing this game. When something positive happens, you should enjoy it. I just think during the season there's no opportunity to be content or feel good about something you've accomplished."

Braun said it wasn't easy to get good swings against Bailey, who entered the game with a 0-5 record and 6.50 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers but continued a recent surge in which his command has been excellent.

"He threw great against us," said Braun. "We've seen him quite a few times but that's the best he has looked. More than anything, he had great fastball command. He stayed down in the (strike) zone with everything."

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Ryan Braun expected back Friday

Manager Ron Roenicke told us this morning that he expects left fielder Ryan Braun back from his slight groin strain on Friday, when the Brewers begin a big three-game series in Cincinnati.

Braun exited the game Tuesday night in the seventh inning after tweaking a groin strain earlier that has been bothering him off and on throughout the season. With a scheduled off day Thursday, Roenicke can give Braun the day off and he will get two days of rest before Cincinnati.

"I always think that way if I have to take a guy out in the middle of a game," said Roenicke. "(Trainer) Dan (Wright) had contact with him early this morning and he still felt it.

"Even thought we need him in there against these guys, if he can't do it and with the off day tomorrow, he should be good for Cincinnati. Usually when he has these little things and we can give him a day, and if we have an off day connected with it, it usually goes away and he's OK. I don't think it's anything big."

Braun dealt with a sore Achilles tendon earlier in the year but managed to play through that for the most part. Obviously, his nagging injuries haven't prevented him from having a big year.

I asked Roenicke if he was surprised that Braun could do so well with nagging injuries and he said, "No. Even though he's had some issues witht the Achilles -- and he had that for a long time -- I still think when he's swinging the bat that doesn't come into play. It comes into play when he takes off and runs."

Roenicke did think Braun's groin issue affected his at-bats Tuesday, when he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

"The groin bothered him a little bit swinging," said Roenicke. "That's part of the reason why I took him out at that time. If it was just out in the field, he controls himself pretty well when he runs. But if it's both swinging and running, then we probably need to get him out of there." 

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Video: One On One With Ryan Braun

WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

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Ryan Braun leaves game with right groin strain

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has left Tuesday’s game against St. Louis with a right groin strain.

Braun was taken out of the game in the seventh inning. It was not immediately clear how the injury occurred, or how serious it was.

Braun was bothered by a right groin injury in May.

Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday left the game earlier after being hit in the leg with a pitch by Brewers starter Randy Wolf.

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Ryan Braun admits he feels vindicated by All-Star selection

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun suffered through an offseason during which he tried to clear his name of any performance-enhancing drug wrongdoing, even after his successful appeal of a 50-game suspension for a positive test. And he admits a big first half that resulted in his All-Star selection has provided some vindication.

"Yeah, absolutely, honestly, of course. At least a little bit," Braun told reporters, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Added Braun: “People have been very supportive. I said from the very beginning that the single best thing I could do to move on was to have success, go out there and do the same things I've done on the field. I think this is actually the best first half I've had in my six years I've been in the major leagues. The goal is to continue to do those things. As long as I continue to do that, that's the best thing I can do to move on.”

Braun is hitting .306 and leads the NL with 24 homers, is second in the league with 61 RBIs and ranks fifth with a .990 OPS. At the midpoint last season, he was hitting .320 with 16 homers, 62 RBIs and a .961 OPS.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes Braun was selected by the players to participate in this year’s All-Star Game, after having been voted by the fans to start in his previous four All-Star appearances.

That support from his peers has been especially gratifying to Braun.

"The players have been incredibly supportive, they really have," Braun told the newspaper. "I have a lot of good friends in this league, a lot of guys that truly have supported me. I've said when you deal with adversity, you see who your true friends are. There have been a lot of guys in this league who have been really supportive of me throughout my career and everything I went through. So, I truly appreciate it."

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Ryan Braun has big night to help National League rout AL 8-0 in All-Star game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ryan Braun was back in the spotlight at the All-Star game. And this time, it was for what happened on the field.

The Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger was in the middle of everything early on for the National League, driving in the first run and playing solid defense in an 8-0 victory against the American League on Tuesday night.

Braun, last year’s NL MVP, spent much of the offseason defending himself after testing positive for a banned substance. He got his 50-game suspension overturned in February and has gone back to being one of the best players in the game.

At the All-Star game, he showed it.

The NL won its third straight All-Star game, with retired manager Tony La Russa, who led the Cardinals to an improbable World Series title last year, pulling the strings.

“If you’re trying to win one game, there’s not a better manager out there,” Braun said. “It’s only fitting that he went out with a win.”

Batting third, Braun jump-started a five-run first off Justin Verlander with an RBI double that drove in the first run. He added the NL’s All-Star game-record third triple in a three-run fourth.

He chipped in with a pair of nice defensive plays in left field, too, tracking down Josh Hamilton’s drive at the wall in the first and then snaring a liner by Prince Fielder to end the fourth.

Only Jose Bautista’s sliding catch of a looper to right denied Braun a third hit.

Braun leads the National League with 24 homers and is among the leaders with 61 RBIs. He skipped the Home Run Derby, saving his cuts for when it counted for his league.

News leaked in December that Braun had tested positive for a banned substance with a urine sample he provided after an Oct. 1 playoff game showing a high level of testosterone. He maintained his innocence, and became the first major leaguer to have a drug suspension overturned.

Braun’s lone appearance in the home run derby came in 2008 at Yankee Stadium. He said he avoided the 2012 contest because it was too much of a pressurized environment.

He ticked off the reasons why not to swing before the game. The setting is unfamiliar, there’s no batting cage, cameras are stationed all over the field and a packed house has its eyes fixed on in anticipation you’ll muscle up on a practice cut.

Braun had said the home run hitting contest was just about as nervous as he’d ever been on a baseball diamond.

At ease in the All-Star game, Braun was at his best.

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Ryan Braun in LF, batting 3rd in All-Star Game

Kansas City -- The Brewers' Ryan Braun will play his natural position of left field and also bat in his regular No. 3 spot for the National League in the All-Star Game Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Braun moved into the starting outfield after Los Angeles' Matt Kemp pulled out with a hamstring injury. It will be his fifth consecutive all-star start.

San Francisco's Melky Cabrera, who has played more left field than center, will make the start in center, with St. Louis' Carlos Beltran in right field.

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Ryan Braun has another monster day

Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, walk, two runs scored and two stolen bases in Sunday's 10-inning win over the Astros.

The RBI was Braun's 61st, while the swipes were his 14th and 15th. The National League's reigning MVP will close the first half with a .306/.391/.599 slash to go along with 40 extra-base hits in 80 games.

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Start or not, Ryan Braun honored to be an All-Star again

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' Ryan Braun is proud to be an All-Star, whether he starts the game in the outfield or on the bench.

Braun was not elected a starter by the fans for the first time in five years, but instead made the team via the player ballot as a National League reserve. He still could start if good buddy Matt Kemp's still-healing hamstring forces the Dodgers star to sit out, but Braun insisted that doesn't matter.

"One way or the other, it looks like I could have a pretty decent chance of getting in there," he said. "But when you're an All-Star, you're an All-Star. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. I was told earlier today that I've had as many All-Star appearances as anyone who's played for the Brewers, and that just puts in perspective how difficult it is. Look at all the great players who have played for this organization -- Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper -- all these guys who have played here and nobody's ever made more than five All-Star teams."
Braun, Cooper and Molitor share the club record with five All-Star nods.

Braun was in the running to be voted a starter in the final round of balloting results last week, but he was knocked out of the top three by Giants fans, who boosted Melky Cabrera all the way to the top of the list of NL outfielders, made catcher Buster Posey the top NL vote-getter, secured a start at third base for Pablo Sandoval and nearly pushed shortstop Brandon Crawford into the lineup.

Braun lauded that effort.

"Whoever is involved in the San Francisco election process needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team, and maybe get ahold of Mitt Romney," Braun joked. "The surge in the polls was spectacular."

He wouldn't say whether Kemp, the captain of the NL Home Run Derby team, extended an invitation for that event. Kemp will swing for the fences alongside Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.

"I enjoy watching the Derby, so I'm excited to watch those guys," Braun said.

But did Kemp ask?

"I'm just excited to watch," Braun said.

He only briefly addressed what his All-Star selection meant in light of an offseason spent fighting a 50-game suspension. He won an appeal, then returned to the field and put up first-half numbers nearly identical to those he posted last season on the way to the NL MVP Award.

In one category, Braun has been even better: He entered Monday with 22 home runs, tops in the NL.

"I said from the beginning of the year, the most important thing for me to do to move beyond everything was to have success on the field," Braun said. "That was the single most important thing I could do.

"But the goal is not have success for the first half, or the first few months. The goal is to be successful all year and for the next 10-12 years. I've started off headed in the right direction, and the goal is to continue to do those things."

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Ryan Braun just happy to be an all-star

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun showed no outward disappointment Monday in not being elected to the All-Star Game as a starter in fan balloting, instead making it as a reserve on the player ballots.

"You never get greedy," said Braun, speaking for the first time about being named to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game but missing out in the fan voting for the first time.

"Anytime you're going to an All-Star Game, it's a tremendous honor. It's always a lot of fun. It's amazing to have an opportunity to represent the Brewers organization, the city of Milwaukee. It's so hard to go to an All-Star Game so any time you get an opportunity to go, whether it's the final vote, voted in by the fans, the players, picked by the manager, whatever the circumstances or situation is, it's a tremendous honor."

No one will ever know how much Braun's turbulent winter, including a positive drug test and successful appeal of a 50-game suspension, hurt him in the fan voting. But Braun said making the team on his own merit via player voting was meaningful.

"It means something to me, regardless," he said. "It's definitely special. You always want to be recognized for the success you have on the field, for the work you put in off the field. Nobody's opinion is more relevant or important to me than my peers. So that's very meaningful to be voted in by them."

As for silencing any critics who didn't think he'd do well in 2012, Braun said, "I said at the beginning of the year that the most important thing for me to do to move beyond everything was to have success on the field. That was the single most important thing I could do. But the goal was not to have success for the first half or the first few months. The goal was to be successful all year and for the next 10 or 12 years. I've started off in the right direction."

In the final days of online voting for fans, San Francisco's Melky Cabrera surged to the lead among NL outfielders, with Matt Kemp falling to third and barely beating Braun for that spot. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval and catcher Buster Posey also were voted in as starters.

"Whoever's involved in the San Francisco election process needs to contact the Barack Obama re-election team or maybe get hold of Mitt Romney or something because the surge in the polls was spectacular," said Braun. "Those San Francisco fans are incredible supportive. I just think they're excited. Their team is playing really well. A lot of times, individual accolades are a result of team success. And their team is playing great right now. Clearly, people there are fired up in supporting their team." 

Braun said he was surprised not to see teammate Zack Greinke selected but understood how tough the process can be, especially for pitchers.

"I felt like he certainly pitched well enough to be an all-star to this point," said Braun. "He's been great for us. There are a lot of really great pitchers in the National League right now. There were quite a few other guys who were deserving as well. Every year you're going to have guys who look like they should make the team who didn't. A lot of times those have a way of working themselves out. Hopefully, somebody pulls out or something happens and he finds a way to get there. He started his career there and I had a ton of success there and I think it would be special to find a way to get back there."

Braun still has a couple of chances to make the starting lineup. Should Kemp's lingering hamstring injury force him to withdraw, Braun would replace him by being the next outfielder on the players' ballot. The game also will include the use of a DH this year, opening another spot in the lineup.

"One way or the other, it looks like I could have a pretty decent chance of being in there," he said. "Either way, when you're an all-star, you're an all-star. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. I was told earlier today that I know have as many all-star appearances as anybody who's ever played for the Brewers. 

"That puts into perspective how difficult it is. You look at all the great players that have played for this organization and nobody has made more than five all-star teams. It shows you how difficult it is. It's something I would never take for granted, however I'm able to get there."

When asked if he had been asked by Kemp to be in the Home Run Derby but declined, Braun wouldn't bite, saying only, "I enjoy watching the Derby so I'm excited to watch those guys."

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Ryan Braun has been steady force for Brewers

Colin McCarthy was a tackling machine for the Tennessee Titans with 7 tackles (6 solo), 1 tackle for loss, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.

For the Philadelphia Eagles Graig Cooper had 11 carries for 24 yards & 1TD & Sinorice Moss had 3 receptions for 49 yards & 3 punt returns for 38 yards.

Baltimore Raven Damien Berry had 8 carries for 31 yards and 1 TD, along with 2 receptions for 18 yards.

Giants DL Dwayne Hendricks had 5 tackles (4 solo) 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB hit. Great game as he is fighting for a roster spot.

Carolina Panther Jeremy Shockey had 2 catches for 19 yards & a TD vs the Pittsburgh Steelers where Baraka Atkins had 1 tackle.

Calais Campbell had 1 tackle for loss in limited action for the Arizona Cardinals.

Redskin Leonard Hankerson has 4 catches for 36 yards.

KC Chief Allen Bailey so far tonight has 1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit. His sack was actually a safety for the Chiefs.

Minnesota Viking Ryan Hill led the Minnesota Vikings with 7 solo tackles.

Damione Lewis of the Houston Texans had 6 tackles (3 solo) and 1 tackle for loss while Brandon Harris had 2 tackles and Darryl Sharpton also added a tackle for the Texans.

49er Corey Nelms had a pass deflection.

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Ryan Braun an All-Star reserve, but may start for Kemp

MILWAUKEE -- It was a bittersweet Selection Sunday for the Brewers. On one hand, left fielder Ryan Braun tied a franchise record by making his fifth All-Star team. On the other hand, club officials had lobbied hard for Braun to win a spot in the National League's starting outfield, only to see him fall just short in fan balloting.

Instead, Braun made the cut via the player ballot, and was announced as the Brewers' lone All-Star Game representative on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.

Unless some teammates are added as injury replacements -- Zack Greinke was Milwaukee's most notable snub -- it would mark the first time since 2005 that the Brewers send fewer than three players to the Midsummer Classic.

The All-Star Game in Kansas City will air on FOX at 7 p.m. CT on July 10.

Braun finished fourth in fan balloting to fellow NL outfielders Melky Cabrera of the Giants, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, coming in about 107,000 votes shy of Kemp. The top three vote-getters comprise the starting lineup.

But Kemp is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and is not expected to be ready in time for the All-Star Game. If he withdraws, a Major League Baseball spokesperson said Braun would replace Kemp in the starting lineup by virtue of the player ballot, and NL manager Tony La Russa would select another player for the bench.

Braun finished third behind Beltran and Cabrera in the vote of Major League players, coaches and managers, just ahead of the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen.

And if Kemp makes a miraculous recovery and rejoins the Dodgers before the All-Star break, Braun still would have a shot at the starting lineup as a potential designated hitter. La Russa said Sunday that he was beginning to mull the lineup.

Even after a tumultuous winter that included the departure of free-agent slugger Prince Fielder, Braun has remained the same productive player.
Through the season's first 72 games, Braun was actually ahead of the pace set by his 2011 NL MVP self -- in batting average (.313 this year to .311 last year), home runs (22 to 15), RBIs (55 to 51) and slugging percentage (.611 to .562).

"He's as good as any of the players I've been around," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who delivered the news of Braun's All-Star selection on Sunday morning. "He can do so much. I've been around great hitters. I played with Mike Schmidt and Tony Gwynn, but Ryan's a little different from those guys because of the total game that he has.

"He's a great defender, he can steal bases, he hits for high average and then can hit home runs. There's not many of those guys around."

Braun declined to address his selection after Sunday's win over the D-backs in light of an incident earlier in the day in the bullpen, where a Brewers staff member collapsed and was administered CPR. The Brewers did not release any details about the man after the game.

"I think there are constant reminders in life that there are things that are far more important than this game that we play," Braun said.

By making his fifth All-Star team, Braun tied a franchise record shared by Cecil Cooper and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, each of whom made only one All-Star start in a Brewers uniform.

Braun's three All-Star Game starts (he sat out last year's game because of a leg injury) are already a Brewers record.

He is still seeking his first All-Star Game hit; Braun is 0-for-7 in his three previous starts.

His starring moment came in the field in 2009, when Braun made a diving fourth-inning catch to rob Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton of an extra-base hit. The play drew a big cheer from the sellout crowd at Angel Stadium, and helped the NL All-Stars preserve a 3-1 win.

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Ryan Braun hurting

Braun played the entire game Tuesday despite being plunked on the left elbow in the first inning by the Cincinnati Reds' Bronson Arroyo.

He was feeling the effects Wednesday, however. So much so that he was unable to play in the series finale.

"I can barely bend my arm," said Braun, who also was sporting a bandage on the spot he was hit.

Braun wears a neoprene sleeve with some additional padding on the elbow, but the ball still hit him with enough force to injure him. He's now been plunked seven times on the season, third most in the National League.

Braun remains hopeful between the day off Wednesday and Milwaukee's scheduled off-day Thursday that he'll be back in the lineup Friday, when the Brewers open a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.

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Ryan Braun holds last spot in outfield in latest All-Star vote

Cincinnati - In a season marred by myriad injuries, poor play and just plain old bad luck, Ryan Braun has been one of the lone bright spots for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The leftfielder is putting up numbers similar to or better than he had up to this point in 2011, when he went on to win the National League's most valuable player award, with a .311 batting average, 20 home runs, 52 runs batted in, .596 slugging percentage, .392 on-base percentage and 13 stolen bases.

Will that be enough to earn his fifth consecutive starting nod in the All-Star Game? The Brewers certainly hope so.

Major League Baseball released its final balloting update Tuesday, and Braun ranked third among National League outfielders with 3,168,617 votes. The top three vote-getters are named starters for the game July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers led all NL outfielders with 4,118,524 votes, and Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals was second with 3,717,483. Braun's third-place standing is a reversal from last week, when he fell into fourth place behind Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants.

Cabrera stood at 3,045,884 votes as of Tuesday, a reversal that Braun said he knew about but wasn't necessarily following.

"People always bring it up to me, especially the media, so of course I'm aware of it," Braun said Wednesday. "But we're playing a game every day, and it's far from the forefront of my thoughts or my focus. But I'm certainly always aware of it.

"I've always appreciated everybody's support. It's been awesome. It's really meant a lot to me."

Braun is bidding for his fifth consecutive all-star start, an honor that might well become a lock anyway with Kemp still dealing with a hamstring injury. But having to fight for votes is a new experience for Braun, who had led all NL outfielders in voting the previous four years.

Considering that and the tumultuous off-season he experienced with his successful appeal of a 50-game suspension in the wake of a positive drug test, Braun was asked if a starting spot would be more meaningful to him this time around.

"No," he said simply. "No."

Voting closes at 10:59 p.m. Thursday, and the Brewers are doing everything possible to try and get fans to use their 25 votes. Social media has been a valuable tool in getting the word out, and a team spokesman has even spent considerable time during the current road trip passing out "Vote Braun" placards and T-shirts to Brewers fans in the stands.

Those same T-shirts even made their way into all the lockers in the Brewers' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park.

While Braun said he won't be caught wearing one - "Never. No chance," he said - he's thankful for the team's support.

"It's very meaningful, absolutely," he said. "I definitely appreciate it."

Fans can vote on MLB.com, on the individual websites of the 30 major-league teams and also on mobile devices. The results will be announced at noon Sunday on TBS.

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Ryan Braun wants to be a Brewer for life

Ryan Braun is batting .312 with a league-leading 20 home runs, plus 52 RBIs and a .596 slugging percentage, yet he dispels any notion that he might be the best right-handed hitter in the National League, with Cincinnati's Joey Votto the best lefty.

"I think that it's really difficult to say that one player is better than everyone else in the league," Braun said. "[But] it's an honor to be even included in that conversation.

"I think something like that is earned over time, and over the past five or six years, I have been pretty consistent. I don't think I am at the point yet where I deserve that distinction. Maybe one day I would, but not yet."

The Baseball Writers' Association of America would seem to disagree, as its members voted to give Braun the 2011 NL MVP Award.

Braun said that although the award is an honor, it hasn't changed his modus operandi when it comes to baseball.

"I always look forward, continue to move forward. I never get too excited about the success that I've had in the past. This is a very humbling game, so the goal is to always continue to have success, and I guess all my goals at this point have become team-oriented," Braun, ever the team player, said. "It was so much fun to go to the playoffs last year. [The Brewers were] two games short of the World Series, and the goal is to get back to that point as a team."

And for Braun, this year being a team player means compensating for the absence of powerhouse Prince Fielder, who was signed as a free agent by the Tigers in the offseason.

"I think the biggest challenge is consistency and longevity, and I [place] a lot of value [on] trying to be as consistent as possible, as productive as possible and to help my team win regardless of who's on my team, who's hitting behind me or what the circumstances are," Braun said. "It certainly becomes more challenging when you lose a player as good as Prince is, but for me, personally, I still have a job to do, and I try to do it the best that I can.

"You can't replace a player like Prince with a single other player, so I think everybody collectively kind of tries to pick up the pace for what we've lost. But the biggest thing about Prince is the energy he played with every day. He brought so much energy to our team, and I think it is just as challenging to try to replace that as it is the production."

Braun attended the University of Miami in case baseball didn't work out, but he won't have to worry about that possibility now. Nevertheless, he stresses the importance of school.

"You never know if sports are going to work out or not," he said. "My parents always instilled upon me the importance of an education and taking my education seriously. And even if sports does work out for you, you still have life after baseball or whatever sport it is that you play, so it's really important to take your education seriously."

And even though Braun made it in sports, he still uses what he learned from his major in Business Management and minor in Sports Management on a daily basis.

"As much as anything else, it's nice to have an idea of what I am getting myself into as a baseball player," he said. "You have a lot of opportunities, marketing deals, endorsement deals, financial opportunities -- it's nice to be able to read through a contract and have an idea of what it actually says."

Speaking of contracts, last April, Braun signed with Milwaukee through the 2020 season, an extension of the seven-year deal he and the Brewers inked back in 2008. The deal will net Braun a grand total of $145.5 million and a chance to spend his entire career in a Brewers uniform.

That's something he would be happy to do.

"I was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers. They helped to develop me as a baseball player and as a person. I've certainly enjoyed my time in Milwaukee and have been very fortunate to be on two teams that played in the postseason," he said without an ounce of hesitation. "I truly believe in the organization and the depth, the future, of our organization."

And with Braun set to be the team's cornerstone, so do Brewers fans.

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Ryan Braun in line for starting All-Star spot

Either every citizen of Wisconsin has decided to vote for Ryan Braun up to the limit of 25 times, or baseball fans in general have forgiven him for his brush with performance-enhancing drugs.

The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, whose positive drug test from last year was overturned on appeal, surged past the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera for the last starting outfield spot in the final voting update for the NL All-Star team, which was released today.

Braun, who has garnered 3,168,617 votes to Cabrera's 3,045,884, had fallen to fourth place in the previous update. Matt Kemp and Carlos Beltran are far ahead in the balloting for the other two outfield spots.

The teams that will represent both leagues in the July 10 event in Kansas City will be announced Sunday.

Braun, the defending NL MVP, is having another huge season, tying for the league lead with 20 home runs, ranking in the top five with 52 RBI and batting .314 with a .996 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. But he was jeered and taunted on the road early in the season after winning his appeal on what many perceived to be a technicality related to the chain of custody.

At this time, though, he's in line to make his fifth consecutive starting appearance in the ASG.

Kemp, who has been sidelined since May 31 with a strained hamstring, yielded his overall voting lead in the NL to Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who has the majors' best on-base percentage at .481.

Votto has garnered 4,475,180 votes to Kemp's 4,118,524.

Other than the third outfielder, the closest race in the NL is for the starting catcher spot, where the Giants' Buster Posey is ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina – an All-Star each of the last three seasons – by a tally of 3,335,982-3,119-530.

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Ryan Braun hitting streak

Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak to 18 games Sunday with a single in the for the Milwaukee Brewers. Braun also has a 27-game streak in interleague games. His 18-game streak is the longest current one in the majors.

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Ryan Braun takes over NL home run lead

Ryan Braun has, temporarily at least, lost his hold on a starting spot for the National League All-Star team. He does, however, possess the league lead in homers after hitting his 20th today.

He overtook Carlos Beltran, who has been stuck on 19 for a week now.

Braun went 3-for-4 in leading the Brewers to an 8-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday. The homer, off Luis Perez, was his fifth in seven games, and he’s currently riding a 15-game hitting streak.

It seems pretty obvious that Braun’s positive steroid test last winter, even though it was later overturned on appeal, has hurt his popularity. Last year, he was the NL’s leading vote-getter in the All-Star balloting, and he actually has better numbers now than he did at his point in 2011 (though it’s worth noting that his awesome April last year might have stuck better in the voters’ minds then than his down May and June).

Of course, Braun seems awfully likely to start the All-Star Game anyway. First, he’s the obvious choice to DH for the NL if he doesn’t get the lineup spot. Second, he could easily pass Melky Cabrera to reclaim a starting spot in the balloting. Third, he’d likely be moved into the lineup if Matt Kemp, the NL’s current leading vote-getter, isn’t ready to play in the All-Star Game as he recovers from his strained hamstring.

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Ryan Braun to serve as honorary chair of AIDS Walk Wisconsin 2012

Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers’ all-star left fielder and the National League’s reigning most valuable player, will serve as honorary chair of AIDS Walk Wisconsin 2012, the organization announced today.

Last year’s honorary chair was Packers star CClay Matthews.

“I am honored to be a part of AIDS Walk Wisconsin 2012,” Braun said in a statement.  “AIDS is still impacting too many of our friends, family members and neighbors. I am proud to do whatever I can to help raise awareness and generate support to strengthen the fight against AIDS.”

The state’s largest AIDS fundraiser, AIDS Walk Wisconsin has raised more than $10.5 million over the past 22 years.  Proceeds support HIV prevention, care and treatment services in the state.

“In 2011, reported new HIV infections in Wisconsin were up 18 percent over the previous year,” said ARCW president and CEO Michael J. Gifford. “With Ryan’s strong support, we know we can raise the funds needed to help curb new infections while making sure everyone with HIV gets the health care and medications they need to live a long, healthy life.”

Gifford said there are 6,584 people confirmed to be living with HIV in Wisconsin. Additionally, there are approximately 1,700 people in Wisconsin who have HIV but do not know it because they have not been tested.

ARCW also announced that MillerCoors will be the event’s presenting sponsor and the Brewers Community Foundation will serve as grand sponsor.

AIDS Walk Wisconsin will take place Sat., Oct. 6, 2012, at the Summerfest Grounds in Milwaukee. For more information about AIDS Walk Wisconsin, to register, or to inquire about additional corporate sponsorship opportunities, please go to www.aidswalkwis.org or call 800-334-WALK (8255).

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Ryan Braun Off To Better Start Than MVP Season

For those wondering if Ryan Braun can keep the same pace he had in 2011 en route to the National League MVP award, he is doing so nicely.

Through 61 games last season, Braun was batting .302 with 12 home runs, 43 RBI, a .396 OBP and .554 slugging percentage. Through 61 games in 2012 entering Sunday, he was batting .322 with 19 homers, 47 RBI, a .399 on-base percentage and .635 slugging percentage.

Because Braun's failed drug test last October became public, even though he beat the rap on appeal, and because Prince Fielder no longer is around to bat behind him, many figured the star leftfielder would scuffle this season. At the very least, the thought was that opponents would not pitch to him as much.

"I think the guys hitting behind him have been good," said manager Ron Roenicke, who has mostly used third baseman Aramis Ramirez in the cleanup spot behind Braun.

"There's no way I'm going to pitch around Ryan all the time to get to Ramirez. No way. You can use that argument last year with Prince. Casey (McGehee) had an off year last year (batting behind Fielder) and they still pitched to Prince.

"I know everybody thinks it's easy to pitch around people but it's not that easy to pitch around people. Every time you do it, you worry about that next guy coming up there. And every time you put people on base, we've got a chance to score. And you turn the lineup over faster. So, it's not an automatic.

"If Barry Bonds is up there, OK. That's definitely a guy you pitch around. You don't pitch around him; you just walk him."Braun was hobbled a few weeks ago by an ailing Achilles' tendon and hip but recovered enough to get red-hot at the plate. He extended his hitting streak to 12 games Sunday.

"Ryan is like anybody else," said Roenicke. "They go through their stretches where they get hot. He certainly doesn't get as cold as most people. When he's got his swing going, it doesn't matter too much who's pitching against him. He can hit the best pitchers."

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Ryan Braun: 'It's never going to go away, I know

The booing has calmed down, most of the taunts have subsided, and, judging from his All-Star vote total, perhaps fans are starting to believe Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun or are indifferent to circumstances of his failed drug test.

Braun, the National League MVP and first player to have a positive drug test overturned, told USA TODAY Sports he didn't win his appeal on a technicality and insisted he never used performance-enhancing drugs.

"It's never going to go away, I know that," Braun said of a positive drug test, the results of which were overturned in February by an arbitrator. "But we didn't win because of a technicality. We won because we deserved to win. We won because we proved I didn't do it. Right now, it wouldn't do me … or the game any good to talk about why."

Amid what Braun calls "without a doubt, my most challenging year yet," he is on pace for a career season. He's riding a 12-game hitting streak, a stretch that includes four homers in three games ending Saturday. He is hitting .316 and is tied for the NL lead with 19 homers. His projected 47 homers, 115 RBI and 1.015 on-base-plus-slugging percentage would be career bests.

He is poised to start his fifth consecutive All-Star Game, as his 1.5 million votes place him third among NL outfielders, but he understands there will be a stigma attached to his name. Major League Baseball fired the arbitrator, Shyam Das, who ruled in favor of Braun and made sweeping changes in drug testing protocol after it claimed Braun won his appeal because of the handling of his test sample.

"I think I'm a better player now than I've ever been," Braun said. "I don't think I'm necessarily a better player now because of that, but in light of all the off-season drama, it certainly has been motivating, to come out with the expectation that this is going to be my best season.''

Braun's image may be forever tainted, and the vociferous boos he heard in Atlanta and Los Angeles this season may never go away, but with all eyes on him this year, he has not ducked the pressure.

"Whether I like it or dislike it,'' Braun said, "you might as well embrace it. It's going to be there. It's inevitable. It's certainly nothing I am going to shy away from, or be afraid of.''

Says Brewers teammate Nyjer Morgan: "Fans have been wearing him out, they've been nasty. If he didn't put up the numbers he's doing, a firestorm would probably start up. But the numbers he's putting up, he's basically proving everybody wrong. He's proving to all of the haters, "I didn't do that.'

"The numbers don't lie.''

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Ryan Braun blasts 16th home run in losing effort

Ryan Braun blasted his 16th home run of the season on Thursday, though he wasn't able to lead his team to victory over the Royals.

Braun finished the night 1-for-4 with the solo shot off Luke Hochevar. The homer was just his second in the month of June. He's off to an impressive start towards defending his MVP award, hitting .309 with 16 homers, 42 RBI and 11 steals. It's nice to see that all of the offseason controversy and distractions haven't hindered his play on the field.

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Ryan Braun still third in NL outfield balloting

Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun remains third in the all-star fan balloting among NL outfielders in the latest results released by MLB.

Braun remains third behind Los Angeles' Matt Kemp and St. Louis' Carlos Beltran. Kemp continues to lead all NL players in fan votes with 2,589,464. Beltran has 1,782,831 and Braun is next with 1,553,356. San Francisco's Melky Cabrera is fourth with 1,357,461 votes. The top three vote-getters in the outfield will be the starters in the All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City. 

The only other Brewers on the leader boards are catcher Jonathan Lucroy and second baseman Rickie Weeks, both fifth at their positions.
When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes on Friday, June 22nd, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 club web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, June 28th at 10:59 p.m. (CDT).


The Ryan Braun Rules are in effect! MLB, MLBPA Announce modifications to joint drug agreement

In the recently-completed Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league and the union agreed to make several modifications to the Joint Drug Agreement which governs drug testing, suspensions and whatnot in baseball.  They just announced that they have reached agreement on the modifications.

They’re all listed below. The ones that seem notable or major to me in bold. Many of them are designed to specifically address the Ryan Braun fiasco from this spring:

• Adding hGH blood testing during Spring Training, during the off-season, and for reasonable cause.  The parties also agreed to study expanding hGH testing to the regular season.
• Increasing the number of random tests during the season and off-season.
• Modifying the Collection Procedures of the Program to clarify when collectors must deliver specimens to the courier, and how specimens should be stored prior to delivery to the courier.
• Modifying the Appeals procedures of the Program, including the circumstances under which procedural deviations will result in the invalidation of test results.
• Creating an Expert Panel of recognized ADD/ADHD experts to advise the Independent Program Administrator (“IPA&rdquoWinking on Therapeutic Use Exemption (“TUE&rdquoWinking applications for ADD/ADHD medications, and another expert panel of medical professionals to advise the IPA on TUE applications for other medications.
• Strengthening the protocols for addressing use by players of drugs of abuse.
• Permitting public announcement of the specific substance that resulted in a player’s positive test result or discipline.
• Making players who are suspended for violating the Program prior to the All-Star Break (including during Spring Training and the preceding off-season) ineligible to be elected or selected for the All-Star Game.
• Establishing a protocol for evaluating and treating players who may suffer from an alcohol use problem or who have engaged in off-field violent conduct.
• Clarifying the rules for violations for use or possession of prohibited substances based on evidence other than positive test results (“non-analytical positives.&rdquoWinking
• Increasing the penalties for criminal convictions for possession or use of drugs of abuse (including stimulants).

Some of these, such as the no-All-Star Game for those who test positive thing have been long sought-after. I’ll also note, building on yesterday’s post, that while there is now something for evaluating people with alcohol problems, and something about increasing discipline for drug convictions, there is nothing about DUI incidents or convictions. So close, guys!

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Ryan Braun opinion won’t be released

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and its players’ association decided there will be no written decision in the case overturning Ryan Braun’s drug suspension, while also changing the rules that allowed the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder to get his 50-game penalty thrown out.

MLB and the union announced changes to their drug-testing agreement Thursday in the wake of the Feb. 23 decision by arbitrator Shyam Das to overturn the suspension that followed a positive test by Braun, the NL MVP.

As part of the deal, the sides agreed privately that Das will not issue a written opinion in the case, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sides’ decision not to announce the lack of a written decision.

Braun’s side argued his urine sample was handled improperly because the drug collector kept it at home from Saturday,

Oct. 1, until the following Monday, when he took it to a Federal Express office for shipment to the testing laboratory outside Montreal. The drug policy stated that the sample was to have been delivered to a FedEx office immediately.

Das overturned the suspension and was to give a written opinion within 30 days, but the sides asked him to hold off. Management fired Das last month and replaced him this week with Fredric Horowitz, a veteran of baseball and NHL salary arbitration cases.

The sides agreed to several changes in the drug agreement in the wake of the Braun decision. Lawyers for the Milwaukee outfielder argued the collector from Compehensive Drug Testing (CDT) did not following the section of the joint drug agreement that stated “unless instructed otherwise by CDT, the collector shall deliver the specimens to a FedEx office immediately following the completion of the collection.”

The new agreement replaces that language with “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected.”

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Ryan Braun not focused on all-star balloting

If Ryan Braun was either surprised at how high he ranked in all-star balloting in the early going or disappointed that he wasn't higher, he didn't let on Tuesday.

In the initial results of fan balloting, Braun ranked third behind Los Angeles' Matt Kemp and St. Louis' Carlos Beltran. He was 800,000 or so votes behind Kemp but only 100,000 or so behind Beltran.

Braun was the leading vote-getter among all NL players last year and regularly has led the outfield voting in being selected four consecutive times. But, after a tumultuous winter in which his positive drug test and successful appeal of a 50-game suspension played out publicly, there was reason to wonder how the voting fans would respond.

Braun insisted it wasn't something on his mind.

“I’ve always been appreciative of people’s support. It’s always meant a lot to me,” Braun said. “It’s certainly not a priority. I’m trying to focus on getting healthy and helping our team get back to where we expect to be.”

'It's not something I've ever given a lot of thought to. I've always been appreciative of the support of the fans in all-star voting. Beyond that, it's not something I think about day to day, that's for sure. 

"It's always a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to represent the city of Milwaukee, the Brewers franchise. It's something I've always enjoyed, so definitely a good thing."

Braun said the support of Brewers fans means a lot to him, especially with the injury-riddled club off to a slow start.

"The people here have continued to support us in spite of the fact that we haven't gotten off to a good start," he said. "That always means a lot. Things aren't always going to go the way you want them to as a team but the fact they've continued to support us, continued to show up and help create a great atmosphere and environment helps us when we're scuffling."

Braun is back in the lineup after missing three of the last four games with an ailing Achilles tendon as well as a sore hip. Asked how he felt after the team's off day Monday, he didn't give a glowing report.

"Eh. I feel all right," he said with a smile."

Asked if it's something he'll have to deal with the rest of the season, Braun said, "I don't know. I hope not. You always hope it goes away but any injury you deal with during the season, it rarely goes away completely. You look around the league and you see a lot of guys, the same thing. Whenever you have something, it's really difficult for it to go away, especially when you play every day and you play hard. I can't control when I have to sprint for a ball or dive for a ball or slide into a base.

Braun aggravated the heel problem and also hurt his hip sliding into second base on a steal Friday with the Brewers trailing the Pirates, 6-2, in the sixth inning.  He and manager Ron Roenicke have talked about the wisdom of stealing if aggravating the injuries could occur but Braun didn't sound willing to just shut it down.

"At times, yeah (it makes sense not to run)," he said. "But when you're competing, adrenaline kind of takes over. If they're giving me a stolen base, I feel like it's stupid not to take it. They give us times on pitchers.

"I'll try to pick and choose my spots but I think it's an important part of my game and an important part of our game. There's even more emphasis on it when you lose a guy like Prince (Fielder) because we've got to find a way to manufacture runs. 

"The Achilles has been there for over a month. I've just been dealing with it. Everything is on my right leg. When you're trying to work through an injury, the rest of your body compensates. Because my Achilles was sore, it led to this hip thing. I went to slide the other night and tried to do something different to avoid hurting (the Achilles) again and this happened.

"Every year, I've dealt with something. For the most part I've been able to work through injuries in the past and I hope this is the same thing. I'm just focused on today and trying to get through today." 

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Ryan Braun 3rd in NL all-star voting in outfield

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, the leading vote-getter among all National League players for the 2011 All-Star Game, is third in the voting among NL outfielders in the first balloting released by MLB on Tuesday.

Los Angeles' Matt Kemp, the runner-up to Braun for 2011 NL MVP, is the leading vote-getter among all NL players with 1,952,910 vortes thus far. St. Louis' Carlos Beltran is next among NL outfielders with 1,212,030 votes, followed by Braun with 1,112,971 votes. The top three vote-getters will form the staring outfield for the NL.

Braun has been elected to four consecutive All-Star Games, a franchise record for the Brewers. But, after leading all vote-getters in 2011, some wondered how Braun would fare this year after his tumultuous off-season in which a positive drug test became public as well as his successful appeal of a pending 50-game suspension.

Braun has been booed on the road in several cities, most notably in Los Angeles on the last trip by Dodgers fans who thought Kemp should have been the MVP last year. Braun also heard considerable booing in Arizona at the start of that trip. The Brewers eliminated the Diamondbacks in the NLDS last fall, with Braun playing a prominent role.

Despite nagging injuries, Braun is off to a strong start this season, batting .308 with 14 home runs and 36 RBI. That performance, as well as his track record as one of the top hitters in the NL, is enough to put him third among NL outfielders in all-star voting in the initial results.

In NL balloting at other positions, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is fifth, as are third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Second baseman Rickie Weeks is fourth in the balloting at his position.

The All-Star Game will be played on July 10 in Kansas City. Weekly updates in the balloting will be announced each Monday for the AL and each Tuesday for the NL throughout June.

Voting in the ballparks concludes on June 22 but fans can cast ballots on mlb.com and the club web sites until June. 28.

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2012 Ryan Braun vs. 2011 Ryan Braun

This could have been the most important weekend of Ryan Braun's entire baseball career.

In a different world, in a what-if parallel universe, this could have been the weekend (starting Thursday night, actually) when Braun finally was allowed to play baseball again, after the expiration of his 50-game suspension for You-Know-What.
Imagine that.

OK, now stop imagining that, because that isn't how it all worked out, of course. That isn't the world, that isn't the universe, that Braun has spent his 2012 season playing baseball in.

Instead, he's been out there from Day One -- Achilles tendons permitting. And it's been fascinating to watch him.

His suspension may have been overturned, his positive test erased from his permanent record. But if the reviews that come wafting down on him from the left-field seats mean anything, America doesn't believe his pleas of innocence.

I understand the reasons for that. I'm sure he does, too. But here's a question for all of us to ponder:

If he's so guilty, if the recipe for his MVP season was fueled by artificial ingredients, wouldn't we be seeing the evidence on the field, here in his post-positive-test life?

That would be a logical conclusion. Wouldn't it?

Well, it sure is interesting, then, that the Braun of 2012 has been a virtually identical player to the Braun of 2011. Take a look at his first 49 games in each of the last two seasons:

First 49 games:

If there's a different player in there this year than last, I haven't detected it. And I'm not alone.

"I haven't seen anything about this guy change," one NL scout said. "I don't see any difference in his swing. I don't see any difference in the effort in his swing. I don't see any difference in his speed. I don't see any difference in his gait. I don't see any difference in his size. I saw him as a 20-year-old, as a 22-year-old and now. And I don't see anything different."

Now I know what lots of you are thinking: He's taking something undetectable.

OK, maybe he is. But it sure was detectable last October, right? So did he take something undetectable all of last season, then switch to something more detectable (reportedly, a synthetic testosterone) in the postseason? You've got me.

The point of this is, none of us have any way of knowing all the details of Braun's case. We know he's been screaming, from the beginning, that he's innocent. We know a bunch of his friends have said stuff to the effect that "If you knew the real story, you'd believe him."

But we also know the powers that be at Major League Baseball believe none of it, that they fired their longtime arbitrator, Shyam Das, over his ruling on this affair, and that they're infuriated that Braun has been allowed to play baseball these last two months.

So you're free to think whatever you want to think about Ryan Braun. This is America. And that's the American way.

But whatever happened or didn't happen last year after his test came back positive, the facts of 2012 are there for all of us to see. And those facts say this is exactly the same player now as the guy we were watching before that test.

And I'm betting that's a development most people never saw coming.

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Ryan Braun is hurting right now

Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers’ lineup last night against the Pirates after sitting out Thursday’s game with tightness in his right Achilles tendon, but he’s still hurting.

Braun aggravated his Achilles and strained his right hip after after legging out a hit and stealing second base in the sixth inning. He stayed in the game at first, but was eventually replaced by Norichika Aoki in left field in the eighth inning.

According to the Associated Press, Braun acknowledged that he’s risking further injury by attempting to stay in the lineup, but he also made it pretty clear that he has no plans to take a break.

“The danger in trying to play through an injury constantly is it’s easy to re-irritate it,” Braun said. “Your body also compensates so it’s easy to hurt something else. I don’t think it’s too bad, but it doesn’t feel too good right now.”

“Pretty much any injury you have during the year doesn’t go away when you play every day,” Braun said. “The only way to get healthy is to take time off and it’s not something I’m really interested in doing.”

Braun went 1-for-3 last night and is hitting .310/.394/.603 with 14 homers, 36 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .998 OPS over 49 games this season. While he hasn’t skipped a beat amid the controversy of his overturned PED suspension, the Brewers will enter play this evening 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Reds in the NL Central at 23-29.

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Ryan Braun returns as pinch-hitter

Ryan Braun returned to action as a pinch-hitter on Sunday, flying out in his only at-bat of a 6-5 loss to the Astros.
Between a sore right hip and tightness in his right Achilles tendon, Braun sat out most of the weekend to recuperate. He will get another 48 hours to heal before Tuesday night's match-up against the Cubs.

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Ryan Braun held out due to Achilles flare-up

Los Angeles - Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun was out of the starting lineup Thursday night due to a flare-up of the right Achilles tightness that has bothered him at times this season.

After a hard slide into second base Wednesday night in the 6-3 victory over the Dodgers, Braun mentioned to manager Ron Roenicke that he felt the tightness again. The two talked earlier in the day Thursday and Roenicke posted a lineup without Braun before Braun arrived at Dodger Stadium.

While it's difficult to imagine the inflammation in the Achilles completely disappearing while Braun plays regularly, Roenicke said there have been times when it has not been an issue.

"He tells me at times that it's real good," said Roenicke. "He'll say it feels real good and he'll steal a base. I think some of the slides get him. He slid late into second base last night and said he felt it."

Asked what the approach will be with Braun going forward, Roenicke said, "You need to feel like you're making progress (with the ailment). If not, you need to change something."

So, the teams' best players were not on the field. The Dodgers announced before the game that Matt Kemp, the runner-up to Braun as 2011 NL MVP, had been placed back on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain after being activated for just one game. Kemp re-aggravated the hamstring scoring from first base in the first inning Wednesday night.

Oddly enough, had Braun not successfully appealed a pending 50-game suspension for a positive drug test over the off-season, the series finale would have been his first game back.

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