Lucroy offers defense of Braun

No-nonsense Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy appeared on the team’s flagship radio station Thursday night and gave a strong defense of left fielder Ryan Braun, who faces the prospect of a 50-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Here’s some of what Lucroy told 620 WTMJ:

“I feel for him, I really do,” Lucroy said. “Let me tell you something for everybody that’s listening: I’ve seen this guy in the weight room every single day work his butt off. There is no one on this team that works as hard as he does. … I’ve never witnessed him do anything that I would think or anyone else would think is illegal. I honestly think it was some kind of screw-up. I don’t know what happened. I would be very, very, very shocked if he actually took something knowingly. This guy is way too smart to do something like that. That’s the first thing I said, the first thing that people I’ve talked to who know him said. There’s no way. He doesn’t need to take that stuff to be as good as he is, and everybody who knows him, knows that.”

News of Braun’s test broke last month in an ESPN Outside the Lines report. Typically, such results don’t leak until a player has had an opportunity to appeal, and Lucroy was upset that this case marked an exception.

“Absolutely, it ticked me off because it’s not anybody else’s business,” Lucroy said. “There’s a lot of guys, not that I know personally, but everybody that has had this happen to before, I don’t know if that stuff has leaked or not. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business until it’s proven one way or another.

“I think everybody is going to paint [Braun] with a broad brush and be like, ‘Oh, he’s a cheater.’ The thing that bothers me is that if he is proven innocent, he is going to have this stigma the rest of his life. That’s what bothers me. He doesn’t deserve it. My personal opinion is he doesn’t deserve it.

“I really have faith in the fact that the right decision is going to be made, and hopefully people can admit their mistakes and hopefully we come out of this clean. Because I tell you what, we need him. We need him as a teammate and we need him as an icon for our organization.”

Also last night, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke appeared on 1250 WSSP. He, too, was asked about Braun.

“We’re planning that Ryan is going to be there, and if he isn’t, it’s kind of Plan B,” Roenicke said. “Which is kind of the same way you do it during the season with an injury. You plan on going with your guys, and if somebody goes down, you have to be deep enough … that you are able to fill-in with somebody who you feel can do a good job.

“That’s why Doug and his crew upstairs, when they look at what we need on the bench, they’re thinking, ‘Hey, if somebody goes down at this position, we have to be covered not just for a game or two, but covered in case somebody goes down for a month or whatever.”

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