Tag:Ryan Braun
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:35 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:26 pm
 

Braun comes out swinging, claims his innocence



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun came out swinging against the Major League Baseball drug testing process, the sample collector and the media in his first public statements since his positive drug test on October.

"I can only answer for myself," Braun said. "The program, as it applied to me, was fatally flawed. I've certainly been frustrated by the process. I've felt it's been unfair.

"Are there changes that should be made? I believe yes."

Major League Baseball executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred issued a statement disputing Braun's assertion.

“Our program is not ‘fatally flawed,’" Manfred said. "Changes will be made promptly to clarify the instructions provided to collectors regarding when samples should be delivered to FedEx based on the arbitrator’s decision. Neither Mr. Braun nor the MLBPA contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering.”

Braun wins appeal
Braun did detail, however, not only when he was tested, but also casted doubt on the sample collector, noting there were 18 Federal Express offices were open until 9 p.m. in Milwaukee and even one 24-hour FedEx office. He said he was tested after a 1 p.m. game that ended at 4:15. Braun laid out his defense like a lawyer making his closing statement.

"At the end of the day the truth prevailed," he said. "I'm a victim of a process that completely broke down and failed in the way that it was applied to me in the case. As players, we're held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program, and everybody else associated with that program should be held to the same standard. We're a part of a process where you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent. It's the opposite of the American judicial system.

In fact, Braun said he's considering legal action, citing possible legal action as a reason for not naming the sample collector.

He also shot down a rumor that he'd been treated for sexually transmitted disease, noting he'd never had an STD.

Braun came out swinging, said his performance had been measured -- that he didn't add a pound, he didn't become any faster. He also noted he already has a nine-year, guaranteed contract.

"I'd bet my life that this substance never entered my body," Braun said.

He also said he was unhappy that the test became public and that he has an idea how the news of his positive test leaked. ESPN reported his positive test -- which was supposed to remain confidential until the appeal was heard -- in December.

"I tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that's who I am and that's how I've always lived my life," he said. "If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and I say I did it. By no means am I perfect, but if I've ever made any mistakes in my life, I've taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that the substance never entered my body at any point."

MLB contends the leak didn't come from their end.

“With regards to the breach of confidentiality regarding this case, both the Commissioner’s Office and the MLBPA have investigated the original leak of Ryan Braun’s test, and we are convinced that the leak did not come from the Commissioner’s Office," Manfred said in a statement.

The MLB Players Association agrees.

“Our Joint Drug Program stands as strong, as accurate and as reliable as any in sport, both before and after the Braun decision," said MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner in a statement. "The breach of confidentiality associated with this matter is unfortunate but, after investigation, we are confident that it was not caused by the Commissioner’s Office, the MLBPA or anyone associated in any way with the Program. In all other respects, the appeals process worked as designed; the matter was vigorously contested and the independent and neutral arbitrator issued a decision deserving of respect by both bargaining parties."

Braun was asked about how his reputation would suffer, even after his successful appeal.

"I'm not dumb enough to pretend this is going to go away," Braun said. "I'm going to deal with this for a while. It's going to be a challenge."

"My name has been dragged through the mud as everything I've ever worked for in my life has been called into question."

Braun, who won the NL MVP after hitting .332/.397/.597 with 33 homers, 109 runs and 111 RBIs last year, is the first Major League Baseball player to have his suspension lifted by an arbitrator for a drug-related penalty. Arbitrator Shyam Das threw out Braun's ban on Thursday. Das, who has been baseball's independent arbitrator since 2000, informed the sides of his decision but did not give them a written opinion. He has 30 days to do so.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 7:10 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:34 am
 

Brewers back in NL Central mix ... on paper

By Matt Snyder

Every baseball fan has surely heard by now, considering our 24-hour Twitterverse of a news cycle, that Brewers' left fielder Ryan Braun won his appeal and will not face a 50-game suspension. There's plenty of discussion to be had on the matter from many different angles, but in this particular entry we'll focus on the 2012 NL Central race.

Had Braun been suspended, the Brewers could probably have been counted out in the NL Central. Replacing Prince Fielder and 50 games of Ryan Braun with Aramis Ramirez wasn't gonna cut it for a team that was largely dependent upon offense last season, en route to the Central division title. Replacing Fielder's production with some Ramirez and hoping for improvements in several other areas? Well, that actually sounds doable.

Then you look around the Central. On paper, we can count out the Pirates, Cubs and Astros. Obviously games aren't won on paper, otherwise the Diamondbacks would have finished last in the NL West as most expected last season. It's just that this is all we have to go on right now, and the Pirates, Cubs and Astros appear very overmatched by the Cardinals, Reds and now Brewers (again).

And right now, the Brewers have just as good a shot as any of the three. They went 96-66 last year and lost a major piece, for sure, in Fielder. But they did sign Ramirez to fill a gaping hole at third base. He can hit cleanup to protect Braun. There are other areas that can improve as well. All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks only played 118 games last season, while Corey Hart was held to 130. If those guys can stay on the field a bit more, there's an offensive uptick. Alex Gonzalez represents a strong upgrade at shortstop over Yuniesky Betancourt (really, who wouldn't?).

Pitching-wise, the Brewers have the ability to be better as well. Improvements should be expected from Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in their second Milwaukee season. Yovani Gallardo has become a legitimate ace. The eighth and ninth innings should be dominant, with John Axford now having established himself as a lock-down closer and Francisco Rodriguez along for the full season as the eighth-inning guy.

Braun wins appeal
If the Brewers are looking outside and hoping for the optimistic spin, it's possible. Let's try it:

• The Cardinals lost the presence of Albert Pujols from the lineup. Can Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman stay healthy while also fighting off age regression? Speaking of age, how much longer does Chris Carpenter hold up? And Adam Wainwright is coming off Tommy John surgery.

• The Reds are stronger, for sure, but they're hardly a cinch to be a great team. You could make the argument there are question marks at catcher, shortstop, third base, center field and left field. Mat Latos was a good get, but how does he deal with a hitters' park instead of spacious Petco Park as his home field?

Obviously, we could spin things in favor of the Cardinals or Reds in a similar exercise, but it's the Brewers day with the Braun announcement.

The bottom line is I'm not sure who I'll be predicting in the NL Central, but it's between the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers. A few hours ago, it was just the Cardinals and Reds in the mix. In the time it takes to snap your fingers, the Brewers were thrust into the mix. Braun is that important.

We now wait for the actual games to see if everything plays out as expected, because what the "paper" says means nothing. Still, one cannot dispute that the Brewers already have their first big victory of the 2012 season.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:47 pm
 

Ryan Braun's statement about winning appeal

By Matt Snyder

Brewers star left fielder and reining NL MVP Ryan Braun won his appeal against a failed drug test Thursday. In the aftermath of the decision, Braun released a statement.

Here is the entire statement, in full (again, everything that follows is from Braun himself):

"I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision.

It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.

I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.

I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.

I'd also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys.

I'd like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process.

This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.

Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Panel Chair and the Office of the Commissioner. 

As I said before, I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball.

Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.

I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title."

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 9:44 pm
 

Braun wins appeal, won't be suspended



By Matt Snyder


Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has won his appeal and will not serve a suspension for a positive drug test late last season, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. This means arbitrator Shyam Das ruled Braun was not guilty in his failed test -- which showed elevated testosterone levels.

The appeal was held in front of Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and Das, a third-party arbitrator. The chain of custody of the sample is where Braun won the appeal. His side argued it was improperly handled and there must have been enough evidence to convince Das.

The sample in question was collected on Oct. 1, a Saturday and the day the Brewers opened the NL playoffs. The collector did not send the sample to the laboratory until Monday, thinking it would be more secure at home than at a Federal Express office during the weekend. Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

Major League Baseball, for one, is not happy. Here's the statement released by MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred:

Braun wins appeal
“Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.

“As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the decision "a real gut-kick to clean athletes."

Das has been baseball's independent arbitrator since 2000 and this is the first successful drug test-related appeal.

Positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs have been relatively rare under the major league testing program, with just two others in 2011: Tampa Bay outfielder Manny Ramirez and Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo. Ramirez at first retired rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second positive test. Now that he wants to play again and since he missed most of last year, he will only need to serve a 50-game penalty.

Braun has maintained his innocence since word of his positive test leaked after the Winter Meetings. Sources told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler that when Braun found out he had tested positive for a banned substance he requested a second test, which came up negative. Braun then appealed the first failed test, and the results were supposed to stay confidential, but an ESPN report outed Braun's test on December 10 and the story has been lingering since then.

Braun, 28, won the NL MVP in 2011 when he hit .332/.397/.597 with 33 homers, 111 RBI and 109 runs for the NL Central-winning Brewers. He will join his teammates in Brewers camp Friday, as scheduled.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:47 am
 

Spring position battles: National League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The National League Central is often looked down upon, but it produced both teams in the National League Championship Series last year, as well as the World Series. Both the Cardinals and Brewers have large voids in their lineup due to free agency, but all the teams have some questions when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Here's the NL Central spring position battles:

Chicago Cubs
Old vs. Young: Bryan LaHair and Marlon Byrd vs. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

For so long the Cubs' motto has been "wait 'til next year" -- that may have been changed to "wait 'til a couple of years" as Theo Epstein has fully embraced the rebuilding effort. The question is whether the braintrust thinks it's better for some of their younger players to learn at the big-league level or continue in the minors. The two biggest choices will be Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo, 22, struggled in his call-up last season, hitting .141/.281/.242 with a homer in 153 plate appearances, but that was as a 21-year-old in San Diego. LaHair may only have 65 games in the big leagues, but that doesn't make him young -- just inexperienced. LaHair turned 29 in November and spent eight years in the minors. He hit .288/.377/.508 in his 20 games with the Cubs last season, but he's hardly anyone's idea of a long-term solution. Epstein drafted Rizzo while with the Red Sox and then traded for him when he took over the Cubs. It's Rizzo's job to lose. Meanwhile, Byrd is in the last season of his three-year, $15 million contract, so he's more likely to get traded than to be unseated in spring. The 23-year-old Jackson put up a .297/.388/.551 line at Triple-A Iowa with 10 homers in just 48 games after being called up from Double-A. The team's first-round pick in the 2009 draft will have a chance to show he's big-league ready. If the team does go with Rizzo and Jackson, it could be a sign of the team's future and the patience that Chicago will show going forward.

Cincinnati Reds
Left field: Chris Heisey vs. Ryan Ludwick

The Reds signed Ludwick to a bargain deal, hoping he can find the stroke he left in St. Louis. The 33-year-old has always hit well at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, putting up a .276/.321/.600 stat line with nine homers in 30 games and 112 plate appearances in his new home park. Both Ludwick and Heisey are right-handed batters who fare better against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick is a career .272/.339/.464 hitter against righties and .237/.316/.435 against lefties. Heisey's split is more extreme -- .288/.346/.539 against right-handers and .180/.248/.300 against lefties. One thing that helps Ludwick's case may be Heisey's strength as a pinch-hitter. Last year the 27-year-old Heisey hit .324/.333/.529 with two homers as a pinch-hitter. There's another option here, as well. If Drew Stubbs struggles at the plate, Hesiey could be an option to play center alongside Ludwick in left. That's a remote possibility, though. The Reds are high on Stubbs' power/speed combination and he is an excellent defender in center.

Houston Astros
Third base: Brett Wallace vs. Chris Johnson vs. Jimmy Paredes

The fact that the Astros are looking to move Wallace to third base may tell you what they think of Johnson and Paredes. If Wallace shows he can play third, he's the likely favorite. Johnson struggled in 2011 after showing promise in 2010. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 after taking over the position for the last two months of the season, but he's not seen as a long-term solution. Wallace could be.

Milwaukee Brewers
First base: Mat Gamel vs. himself

With Ryan Braun's status resolved, the Brewers don't really have many question marks. All five starters return, as do its closer and top set-up man. The lineup, with a platoon of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan and newcomer Aramis Ramirez at third base seems pretty much set -- barring injury. The only hole is a big one -- the one left by first baseman Prince Fielder. The position is Mat Gamel's to lose. The 26-year-old played in just 10 games last season, getting 27 plate appearances. His only extensive big-league experience came in 2009 when he hit .242/.338/.422 with five homers, primarily playing third base. However, he's never been able to establish himself and after playing both third base and the outfield, he played primarily first base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while making six errors in 20 games at third base. He's a first baseman now and a first baseman only. He's hit  well at Triple-A, hitting .301/.374/.512 in parts of four seasons at the top level of the minors, hitting 28 home runs for Nashville last season. Gamel will probably start at first on opening day even if he struggles in spring, but right fielder Corey Hart could be used at first if Gamel struggles even more. The team did sign Japanese outfield Norichika Aoki, who could play right if Hart moves to first.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base: Pedro Alvarez vs. Casey McGehee

Acquiring the veteran McGehee from Milwaukee could be seen as a kick in the pants for the second-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Alvarez hit just .191/.272/.289 in 74 games last season and the team may be getting worried about whether he'll ever develop into the star as expected. McGehee is coming off a rough season of his own, hitting just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers after hitting 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010. McGehee was replaced by Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base during the playoffs and by former Pirate Aramis Ramirez after the season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second base: Skip Schumaker vs. Daniel Descalso vs. Tyler Greene

General manager John Mozeliak has insinuated he'd like to see Greene win the job. The 28-year-old has yet to produce at the level expected of him, hitting just .218/.307/.313 in 150 games and 359 plate appearances. Descalso filled in for the injured David Freese last season and responded with a .264/.334/.353 line, while Schumaker is the incumbent having hit .283/.333/.351 while starting 89 games at second, but none in the World Series. All three have some positional versatility.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 11:29 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 11:29 pm
 

Ryan Braun accepts MVP at BBWAA dinner

Ryan BraunBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan Braun accepted his National League Most Valuable Player Award at Saturday's annual dinner of the New York champter of the Baseball Writers' Association of American and made his first public comments since a report came out that he tested positive for increased levels of testosterone.

Braun made a short speech on Saturday (via MLB.com's Bryan Hoch):
"Sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or as opportunities. I've chosen to view every challenge I've ever faced as an opportunity, and this will be no different. I've always believed that a person's character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.

"I've always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I've done in my career has been done with that respect and appreciation in mind. And that is why I'm so grateful and humbled to accept this award tonight."
Braun's representatives have denied their client took performance-enhancing drugs. Braun's appeal was heard by MLB earlier this week, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:44 pm
 

Ryan Braun's appeal heard by MLB

Ryan Braun

By C. Trent Rosecrans


On Thursday, a three-person panel heard Ryan Braun's appeal of a 50-game suspension stemming from a positive test for raised levels of testosterone, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed.

The three members of the panel were MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred and independent arbitrator Shyam Das, according to the New York Daily News, which first reported the story.

Braun is expected to make a short speech when he accepts his 2011 National League Most Valuable Player Award at Saturday's Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner in New York.

Braun's representatives have repeatedly denied allegations that the Brewers outfielder took performance-enhancing drugs.

According to Heyman, no major league player has successfully appealed a positive drug test.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 12:19 pm
 

Braun to make speech at BBWAA dinner Saturday

Ryan BraunBy C. Trent Rosecrans

National League MVP Ryan Braun will appear at this Saturday's Baseball Writers Association of America dinner, as CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported earlier this month. But the question remains if he'll say anything regarding his positive drug test last season?

Braun's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, told the New York Times on Wednesday that Braun would show up, accept the award and make a short speech.

However, Braun, who hasn't made any public statements since news broke that he'd failed the drug test in October, isn't expected to do any interviews.

Braun, and other winners of the BBWAA awards, are expected to attend the dinner. It seems unlikely that he will address the failed test before his appeal is ruled upon by MLB.

Braun and his representatives have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, while admitting the positive drug test.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com