Hit behind '11 MVP in Milwaukee; Scherzer calls attitude 'despicable'
CHICAGO -- Prince Fielder, who starred alongside Ryan Braun during his 2011 MVP season in Milwaukee, called the suspended outfielder's predicament "unfortunate" on Tuesday afternoon, but other Tigers players were a bit more outspoken on the matter.
Fielder signed with the Tigers as a free agent after that 2011 season, in which he and Braun combined to hit 71 homers and drive in 231 runs, as the Brewers went on to win the National League Central and Braun was named MVP. Braun on Monday was suspended for the rest of the season by Major League Baseball for violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
"I'm not a judge. I don't judge," Fielder said. "It's something he has to go through. It's something that's his business."
Other Detroit players were not so forgiving.
"The whole thing has been despicable on his part," starting pitcher Max Scherzer said. "For me, as a player, you want to believe the system works, but obviously he found a way around it. And when he did get caught, he never came clean. He tried to question the ability of the collector. And he was caught red-handed. That's why there's so much player outrage toward him, because of how brash he was toward MLB and how brash he was in his defense.
"I'm glad he got caught."
In January, the Miami Times broke a story about the Biogenesis clinic and its boss Anthony Bosch's notebook that implicated Major Leaguers. They included Braun, Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Peralta declined comment on the matter Tuesday, but did concede he wished the issue would go away. Tigers manager Jim Leyland also kept his comments to himself -- for the most part.
"I'm not going to comment on stuff I don't know anything about," Leyland said. "I'm hearing all these comments from all these people, and I don't know anything about it. I don't stick my nose where it doesn't belong."
Said outfielder Torii Hunter: "The system works. I've been saying that forever. If you get caught, the system has to work. If you don't get caught, then the system won't work. He got caught, he's going to do his time and we'll move on from there. I don't think it's a black eye on baseball. You're always going to have somebody who breaks the rules."
Scherzer placed emphasis on Braun's intent to enhance his performance, and then his lies to cover up what Scherzer considered a tainted urine sample all along. He contrasted the suspension of Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis -- whom Scherzer believed unwillingly took a banned substance -- with Braun's.
The Brewers outfielder will lose about $3.5 million in salary over the course of his suspension, but Scherzer -- a Tigers alternate players union rep -- doesn't believe it's enough.
"When you still see as many players, even with the 50- and 100-game suspensions, there's still an incentive to cheat," Scherzer said. "As players, we're fed up with that. That's where we want to see either longer suspensions or whatever it takes to take away the incentive -- the financial gain -- away from players. Whether that's voiding contracts, longer suspensions, you're seeing every player jump on board that the punishment doesn't fit the crime yet."
When asked if Braun should be stripped of his MVP, Scherzer said: "Obviously we need to get more clarification from MLB and everything, but if we can assume the timeline right, I think it would be appropriate."
That year, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp finished second behind Braun. Fielder finished third.
"We want to keep the game clean," Fielder said. "It's a weird situation. It's unfortunate, but it seems like the tests are working and it's getting handled."