Roenicke, teammates appreciate Braun's apology
Lucroy, Axford support suspended left fielder, believe team will move forward
CINCINNATI -- By the time the Brewers made it to Great American Ball Park on Friday afternoon, they had almost 24 hours to read and digest the statement released by left fielder Ryan Braun, who admitted to and apologized for taking a banned substance as he recovered from an injury late in the 2011 season.
And as the team prepared to open a three-game series against Cincinnati, one question bounced around the visiting clubhouse:
Was it enough?
"It was certainly enough for me," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think it's enough for his teammates. He made some calls to his teammates, but I think no matter what he comes out and says, there's going to be some negative from a lot of people, still, that he didn't say enough, that he didn't explain himself enough. I think he did."
In the statement, Braun said that he was dealing with a nagging injury late in the 2011 season and turned to a cream and lozenge, both of which, he was told, would help him recover quickly. He said he regretted not admitting to taking the substance immediately after he tested positive for synthetic testosterone in October of that season, when he instead appealed a suspension and won.
Nearly two years later, Braun was suspended on July 22 for 65 games after Major League Baseball linked him to the Biogenesis clinic and its founder, Anthony Bosch. Along with Braun, 12 other players received 50-game suspensions, while Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games but has appealed.
Brewers reliever John Axford is one of those teammates who has spoken with Braun, and he said those conversations, combined with Thursday's statement, were enough for him to move forward. Since the suspension, though, Axford said one of the most significant issues for him was that he wanted to know exactly what Braun had done, and he was pleased to see that come out.
"Everybody wants to know that," Axford said. "For Ryan to be able to step up and say exactly what happened and what he did, I think that was huge, not only for himself, but for everyone involved around him, especially his teammates, his family, his friends, his supporters and people outside that are questioning it."
When asked if Braun should go a step further than the statement and address the media in a press conference, Axford said it could help people move on and put the situation behind them.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who also talked with Braun last week, called the statement "a good first step in the road to redemption" and was fairly confident that more is on the way.
"I think he will do [a press conference] eventually," Lucroy said. "I don't know when, but he will do one. I think that will help him out, for sure, to answer some questions, and answer some direct questions, and kind of get it all out there, I guess."
Roenicke understood why Braun decided to go with a written statement, saying he likely can't answer various questions for legal reasons. He also understood why some people, especially fans and other players, wanted more from Braun.
"If he wants to [hold a press conference] some time, fine," Roenicke said, "but I don't think it's necessary. I think he needs to move on. I think we need to move on as a team. He's going to be with us next year, and hopefully, we get that same player back that's very important to this club and fits in well with the team."
Braun's suspension runs through the end of this season, meaning he'll be able to join the team for Spring Training. Lucroy, who said he believes the hardest part for Braun has been dealing with the fact that he lied to teammates, expects Braun to be welcomed back with open arms next season, as long as he is a good teammate and contributes to the team.
Axford offered a similar sentiment.
"I don't want to talk for everybody at the same time, but I think when Ryan walks around the clubhouse, he's not looked down upon. He never has been," Axford said. "He's always been a great teammate, a great friend and a great person. So this course of events that have built up to what's happening right now, obviously there's a little bit of a mark, but I think people are going to be able to move past it, personally."
As for this season, Lucroy said the attention surrounding Braun's suspension is just a distraction, and players are not letting it get to them. Roenicke added that Braun likely feels worse than anybody, and that he believes the apology issued Thursday was truly genuine.
"This is a nice young man that messed up," Roenicke said. "That's what it is, and he's got a long road ahead of him. He's going to be, I'm sure, yelled at [at] all of the stadiums he goes to again next year. He's going to have things continue to be written about him, but it's a first step in trying to get through this, probably trying to heal up some relationships, whether it's the fans, whether it's his good, good friends, whether it's his teammates. I think this was a nice step towards that."