Attanasio saddened, not angry, about Braun
Brewers star-Biogenesis link reportedly began in 2011
MILWAUKEE -- When Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio learned his franchise player had accepted a season-ending suspension, he was not angry.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday for the first time since Ryan Braun admitted to violations of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Attanasio expressed a different emotion.
"I'm sad," he said. "When I thought about Milwaukee baseball, this is not what I envisioned. But I recognize also that this organization is bigger than anyone, certainly bigger than me. ... I think we will work together to ride through the difficult times so we can enjoy some good times -- and there will be good times again."
"You know, he is under contract with us," Attanasio said, referring to a club-record deal that runs through 2020. "I know there is a lot of commentary now. Right now, the full expectation is to keep him, and the full expectation is that he is going to do the right things, he is going to say the right things and he is going to put in a lot of hard work to get back into folks' good graces.
"That is going to take some time. It's not like we are going to be at Opening Day next year and we're going to be through this. We are not going to be through this."
Attanasio briefly met in person with Braun on Wednesday in Milwaukee, just as details were beginning to emerge about the transgressions that triggered Braun's 65-game suspension on Monday.
Citing anonymous sources, ESPN.com investigative reporter T.J. Quinn reported that Braun's relationship with Tony Bosch and Biogenesis began during the summer of 2011, several months before the October drug test which would trigger Braun's long battle with MLB.
Quinn said via Twitter that his sources alleged Braun "was on a performance-enhancing-drug regimen for high-end clients," and posted an image, allegedly in Bosch's handwriting, of an example of that regimen. It included mint- or cherry-flavored lozenges containing testosterone that a user would place under his tongue.
Throughout July 2011, Braun was dealing with a left calf strain suffered on an eighth-inning groundout in Minnesota on July 2, 2011. The next morning, Braun was named a starting outfielder on the National League All-Star team -- the league's leading vote-getter -- but he would miss the Midsummer Classic because of his injury.
Braun rejoined the Brewers' lineup on July 14 of that year and batted .346 in his final 67 regular-season games, with 17 home runs and 49 RBIs. He then hit .405 with nine extra-base hits in the postseason, including a 3-for-4 performance in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the D-backs. It was after that game that Braun submitted a urine sample that allegedly showed elevated levels of synthetic testosterone, triggering a 50-game suspension, which Braun successfully appealed by questioning the chain of custody of his sample.
On Monday, Braun was suspended for the remainder of 2013 and the postseason. He said in a statement released by MLB, "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."
Attanasio intends to participate in Braun's pending public-relations effort.
"I've told Ryan that I would like to take a more active role in talking to him going forward, and he is very accepting of that," Attanasio said. "He wants to do the right thing at this point going forward. This was a first step, by coming forward and agreeing to a penalty and being the first player to do that. That is a first step, and it is a baby step, but it is a step in the right direction."
Even as he addressed reporters in an impromptu news conference held during the seventh inning of the Brewers' 3-1 win over the Padres on Wednesday, Attanasio, like other Brewers officials and all of Braun's teammates, did not know the details of Braun's violations.
Privately, some of Braun's longtime teammates say they want answers after supporting him so vocally over the past year and a half. Attanasio said he believed a thorough public explanation should be the first step of Braun's quest for redemption.
"I think he has to get to the point where he can actually speak about this," Attanasio said. "Major League Baseball is in the midst of an ongoing investigation. ... He is cooperating in such a way that he is going to let them conclude or get further into the investigation before he talks."
While Attanasio and other Brewers fans wait for their explanation, club officials are already working behind the scenes to patch relationships with sponsors and season-ticket holders.
"I'm reminded in times like this that we're an organization of 25-plus players," Attanasio said. "The two players who were All-Stars this year were Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez, and we've got a bunch of guys out there tonight working really hard to win a game. It kind of makes me proud for what the organization is and who plays for the organization.
"That said, Ryan obviously was the best player on our team, so we miss him."
How does a player restore credibility after a year and a half of lying about being associated with PEDs?
"I don't think there is a road map for that," Attanasio said, "but as you point out, there was a year and a half between when this all started and now, so this is going to take time. I told Ryan that this is going to take time. No matter now open, honest, truthful, sincere he is in the next press conference, that is one step in what is going to be [many]. It is going to take time. Everyone will know when, if he gets over that threshold, that he has gotten over it, because the community will be in a position that they can embrace him again. …
"This community trusted Ryan, so I understand how this community is reacting as negatively as [it is] ... because it was so trusting, and it's had its trust betrayed. We'll all feel it together when it's working again."