Ryan Braun finally spoke out — well, released a statement — about his 65-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use on Thursday. Now that the tension has been alleviated, Braun’s Brewers teammates are letting the world know they’ve got his back.
Some of Braun’s teammates, namely catcher Jonathan Lucroy and relief pitcher John Axford, as well as Brewers manager Ron Roenicke spoke out in support of the suspended superstar during a road trip in Cincinnati on Friday, according to ESPN.
Braun admitted using PEDs in his statement, explaining his own personal disappointment and that he has “no one to blame but myself” for the uncomfortable situation he and his teammates now face. Those same teammates certainly didn’t sound pleased about Braun’s admission to using performance enhancers in their comments on Friday, but they did seem willing and ready to accept the All-Star outfielder back into the good graces of the clubhouse.
“I thought it was a good first step on the road to redemption, I guess you could say,” Lucroy said. “I think the outside, of course, is going to be harder to deal with. Within the clubhouse, I don’t think so. If he comes back and is a good teammate and performs and contributes to the team winning, I don’t see why he won’t be welcomed back with open arms.”
Axford was a little more forthcoming with his feelings about Braun’s decision to cheat, but, in the end, he focused on forgiving Braun for his mistakes and reinforcing the fact that he, as a member of the team, is considered family.
“You can be upset, you can be angry, but in the clubhouse here we’re close,” Axford said. “We’re friends. We’re family. And you have to have faith and belief and trust in your family.
“If you want to move past it, you have to be able to forgive, and that’s where I’m at. I’m in the position where I want to be able to forgive and move past this and talk to Ryan like our friends and family.”
Roenicke, who has coached Braun for three seasons now, agreed with his players’ sentiments that Braun will have a difficult time dealing with people outside of the organization, which he knows may be a burden on the 29-year-old slugger.
“And he’s got a long road ahead of him. I’m sure he’ll be yelled at all of the stadiums he’ll go to next year. He’s going to have things continually written about him. But it’s a first step, I think, in trying to get through this, probably trying to heal up some relationships, whether it’s the fans, whether it’s his good friends, whether it’s his teammates.
But, even in acknowledging Braun’s clear error, Roenicke remains effusive in his support of his player’s character.
“This is a nice man,” Roenicke said. “He is. This is a nice young man that messed up. That’s what it is.”