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Even while losing his most productive player, Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin felt a sense of relief.
“We can move forward starting tonight,” Melvin said on Monday. “We’ll have someone else here (to take Braun’s roster spot) and we’ll try to win as many games as we can.”
The Brewers fell to 41-57 with Monday’s 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres and are in last place in the National League Central, 19 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio, who still owes Braun more than $120 million over the remainder of a contract that runs through 2020, said he was disappointed in Braun.
“It’s clear that Ryan used bad judgment, but we accept his apology and believe that he should be given the opportunity to redeem himself,” the owner said about Braun, who will forfeit nearly $3.5 million of salary during his unpaid suspension.
Braun addressed his teammates prior to Monday’s game and Brewers players stood by the banned outfielder.
“I’ve said all along he doesn’t need that stuff to perform,” Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “I don’t know why he ever took it.
“When people make a mistake it’s tough to forgive them, but I think it’s a bigger person who will forgive them than who will sit there and wear him out, hold a grudge against him.”
Girardi tried to find a positive spin.
“The message to me is, and I think it’s a great message to kids, is if you cheat, if you lie, you’re eventually gonna get caught,” he said.
Girardi could soon find himself dealing first hand with a similar matter as Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez, sidelined so far this season in his recovery from hip surgery, could also face punishment after being questioned this month by MLB investigators for his alleged link to Biogenesis.
All-time saves leader Mariano Rivera applauded baseball’s moves to clean up the game but said he would stand by Rodriguez come what may.
“I have to support him. He’s my teammate. He’s my brother,” Rivera told reporters. “I’m not saying he did or didn’t do it, but if it happens, I can’t throw him in the street. He’s still my brother.”