Braun, Ramirez could get rude Wrigley welcome

Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus/Brewers

The Brewers’ middle-of-the-order hitters will probably get a rude reception when the team plays its first 2012 road game at Wrigley Field on Monday night.

Three-hole hitter Ryan Braun is playing his first regular season away game since appealing a suspension over the winter. Cleanup man Aramis Ramirez is returning as an enemy after parts of nine seasons with the Cubs.

Ramirez said he isn’t sure what kind of reception he’ll get. But he has a hunch about Braun.

“I think it’s going to be ugly for Braun everywhere we go,” Ramirez said. “On the road, it’s going to be tough for him. He knows it. That’s no secret. Plus, he got a taste of it in Spring Training. Everywhere we go, he was getting booed.

“But that’s a good player, and he’s tough. He’s tough mentally, and I think he’s going to be OK. He’s a good enough player to separate that from his game.”

As for how Cubs fans will greet Ramirez’s return?

“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he said. “I had a great career there. I played for some good teams and also played for some bad teams. I guess you have to ask the fans.”

He had a similar experience in September 2003, when Ramirez returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since a midseason trade from the Pirates to the Cubs. Ramirez went 5-for-13 in that four-game series, with three home runs and six RBIs. He homered twice in that series finale, a 4-1 Cubs win.

“They booed me,” Ramirez said of Pirates fans. “I don’t know why. I didn’t ask to be traded.”

Likewise, Ramirez said, he did not ask to leave Chicago. He was a free agent, and the Cubs’ new president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, told agent Paul Kinzer that Ramirez did not fit the franchise’s plan.

“Theo was honest,” Ramirez said. “He told my agent they were going young, so there was no place for me there. I’m 33.”

If Cubs fans do boo him, Ramirez said, “I want to know the reason why. What did I do? But [Cubs] fans, they go to the park and they do whatever they want.”

Ramirez still has a home in downtown Chicago, but it’s for sale so he will stay with the Brewers at the team hotel.

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