Roenicke: Braun knows what he’s up against
Three days after attending Ryan Braun’s wedding in California, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke spoke at length Tuesday about the challenges facing a player who will return in the spring from a PED suspension to begin working on the move from left field to right.
“He knows what he’s up against,” Roenicke said.
Braun’s July 22 suspension defined a difficult season for the Brewers, and his return will bring its own issues. There is the position switch, precipitated by the Brewers’ trade of right fielder Norichika Aoki to the Royals for a much-needed lefty arm (Will Smith), plus a desire to free left field for slugging prospect Khris Davis. Then there is the matter of how Braun will be received by fans, both on the road and at Miller Park.
Asked whether he believed Braun was nervous about how he’ll be treated by fans at home, Roenicke said, “I think he’s wondering what it will be like. I’m wondering what it will be like. … I’ve said this many times: This is a really good young man. He made a mistake, but this is a really good young man. If you are OK with people making mistakes, which I certainly am, you have to look at what kind of person this guy is. He is a good guy.”
Braun has already apologized to Roenicke and some key teammates, and made his first public appearance in Milwaukee just before Thanksgiving to express additional regret to fans. But while admitting in a written statement that he took a cream and a lozenge in 2011 that contained a banned substance, Braun has not been forthcoming with details about what he took, when he took it and when he stopped taking it, leaving many fans unsatisfied.
Roenicke said that he was ready to move on without any more details.
“The more I think about it, anything he says at this point about what happened is never going to satisfy everybody,” Roenicke said. “All it’s going to do is stir up new controversy. It’s going to come across negatively to somebody in the press, in the news, and for him to have to go through that stuff again, to tell you the truth, I don’t think he needs to. If he wants to, fine. I don’t think he needs to go there. …
“I think there’s things he can’t say, and I think there’s things he doesn’t want to say. That’s been the case with almost everybody [suspended after the league’s investigation into Biogenesis]. Everybody makes their little statement or comments, and then you go on from there. I don’t get what the reason is that everybody needs to know exactly what happens. Everybody knows he did some things he shouldn’t have done, and we move on.”
Roenicke understands that many feel differently, and still seek answers to open questions.
“To be honest with you, I really don’t need to know,” he said. “He made a mistake. All I need to know is how’s he going to be when he gets back? How’s he going to go about his relationship with players, with fans, with management? I know he’s going to be physically ready to go after it.
“He’s a good young man. Really, that’s the bottom line. This is a good young man.”
On the field, Braun may play more Spring Training innings than usual to work on the move to right field, but Roenicke generally envisions a smooth transition.
“I think Ryan enjoys sometimes, being challenged, and going to right field certainly is a new venture for him,” Roenicke said. “He’s got the tool set to do it, no question. He’s got good speed, he has a very accurate arm, a strong arm, and good judgment. All of that plays into a right fielder.”
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