Apologetic Braun breaks silence in statement
Brewers outfielder sorry for 'any damage done to the game'
MILWAUKEE -- In a lengthy written statement issued through the Brewers on Thursday, Ryan Braun acknowledged taking a banned substance to aid his recovery from an injury in late 2011, expressed regret for misleading teammates and fans over the ensuing two years, and apologized for "any damage done to the game."
The comments were Braun's first since he admitted "mistakes" in bowing to a season-ending suspension from Major League Baseball on July 22. Thursday's statement did not mention Biogenesis, the Miami-area clinic that was investigated by MLB for providing banned substances to some players, nor did it specify the particular substance that led to Braun's 65-game ban.
But, for the first time, Braun admitted, "I deserved to be suspended."
"Here is what happened," his statement said. "During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed, and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately."
Instead, after Braun tested positive for synthetic testosterone in October 2011, he appealed a suspension and won by questioning the chain of custody of his urine sample. When the Biogenesis story broke in January 2013 and linked Braun to clinic founder Anthony Bosch, MLB reopened its investigation into Braun.
In his statement, Braun went on to say he had issued private apologies to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Executive Vice President for Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred, and to Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner and MLBPA staff.
Braun also apologized to Brewers teammates, fans and to Dino Laurenzi Jr., the sample collector whose conduct was questioned by Braun during a February 2012 press conference in the wake of Braun's successful appeal.
"At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance," Braun said. "I think a combination of feeling self-righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this."
Braun expressed regret about leaving those close to him in the dark about his transgressions and said he would work with the Commissioner's Office in the future to help clean up the game.
"Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem," Braun said.
The Brewers e-mailed Braun's statement at 6:20 p.m. CT, while the rest of the team was en route to Cincinnati for the start of a weeklong road trip. Braun did not meet or speak with the media regarding his statement, but over the past week, he apologized to select teammates over the phone and provided more detail about his transgressions.
Braun's statement was delivered more than two weeks after 13 players were suspended in Major League Baseball's investigation into the link between the now-shuttered Biogenesis anti-aging clinic and performance-enhancing substances. Alex Rodriguez was suspended 211 games, but the Yankees third baseman has appealed.
Separate from his statement to the media, Braun sent a letter to Brewers season seat holders and e-mail subscribers.
"I am so sorry for letting you down by being in denial for so long and not telling the whole truth about what happened," the letter said. "I am ashamed and extremely embarrassed by the decisions I made. There are no excuses for what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I apologize to all Brewers fans for disappointing you."
"I'm glad he came out with it and hopefully everyone can move forward," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy wrote in a message to MLB.com from the team charter. "The Brewers, fans, baseball and himself."
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, reached by telephone Thursday night, was asked whether he was satisfied with Braun's statement.
"I think it's just got to satisfy Ryan. He's got to feel good about it," Melvin said. "He has to put it out; I think people were waiting for it. He wanted to put some thought into it and wanted to make sure he got all of his facts straight before he did it.
"My feeling is, I know he put a statement out, and that's the right thing to do. But I think when any player goes through what he's done, it's going to be the actions after that will be important, too. … [The statement] is going to be analyzed, dissected, and it's never going to satisfy everybody. That's why I'm saying beyond a release of what he has to say, the most important thing is an individual's actions when he comes back. He's going to be one of 25 players."
Does Melvin believe Braun needs to say or do anything more before donning a Brewers uniform again next season?
"I don't know what 'more' is," Melvin said. "I think his actions when he comes back are going to be the most important thing. When a player comes back from a situation like this, he's going to be one of the guys. It's up to every individual on how he's going to be [accepted back]. Every individual has his own feelings, and I think once you put on the Brewers uniform, there's an acceptance that you're all working in the same clubhouse, on the same team. Guys are all professional enough to understand they're on a team. They'll all move forward and try to win ballgames."