Braun stays mum after new suspensions
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun remained silent Monday in the wake of 13 additional suspensions levied by Major League Baseball, the result of the league's investigation into the Florida wellness clinic known as Biogenesis. The new bans were levied exactly two weeks after MLB suspended Braun for the Brewers' remaining 65 regular-season games.
"It's obviously a good step to clean up this game," said reliever John Axford, the Brewers' Players Association representative. "That's something every player wants, they want a clean sport. As far as that goes, I think that's definitely a positive."
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez on Monday received the stiffest penalty -- a 211-game ban without pay through the end of the 2014 regular season. Rodriguez, 38, has appealed the suspension, which is to begin Thursday. His case will be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez's discipline, MLB said in its written announcement, is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the basic agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate" the investigation.
The other players who were handed 50-game suspensions include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
Cruz appeared in eight games for the Brewers in September 2005 and was traded to Texas the following July. The Brewers acquired de los Santos from the A's last season in a trade for catcher George Kottaras, but he never appeared for Milwaukee in the Majors. The Padres claimed him off waivers in February.
Several Brewers expressed sympathy for the teammates of the newly suspended players, because they were left to answer the same tough questions they themselves struggled with just two weeks ago.
"You just have to step past it," Axford said. "That's what these teams are going to have to do. Some of these teams were looking ahead to this already -- they had ideas and thoughts that this was going to happen. But until it actually happens, you don't know what to expect. For us, it was just about moving forward and playing out the rest of the year. Obviously, we haven't forgotten about Brauny, by any means, but it seems everyone has moved past it pretty well."
Said Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy: "It's tough for these other teams, especially the ones in the playoff races. You lose your big guys. It's tough, but it's part of the process, and I'm glad to see the game is getting cleaned up. Hopefully this will all be behind us soon so everybody can focus on baseball. This has been a dark cloud over the game for a little bit, and hopefully we can get this cleaned up, move on and guys don't try to do it anymore."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who played parts of eight Major League seasons, echoed that sentiment, saying, "We want everybody to be on an equal playing field."
With the rest of the Biogenesis suspensions in the open, is it time for Braun to talk?
"I've texted back and forth and I'll probably call him shortly, but that's his decision," Roenicke said. "I know which way I would like him to go. He knows. He knows how Mark [Attanasio, the team's principal owner] feels, he knows how Doug [Melvin, the general manager] feels, and I think he probably knows how the players and the fans feel."
Roenicke could not say whether he expects to see Braun in the near future. MLB rules allow Braun to be with the team during his suspension, as long as he leaves the field when stadium gates open to fans.