Milwaukee — Reaction to Ryan Braun’s suspension from fellow players was swift and scathing after the former National League MVP agreed to a ban for the rest of the 2013 season for a drug violation.
Braun, who on Monday became the first player to fall as part of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) latest drug investigation, will miss the final 65 games of the 162-game regular season and any potential playoff action.
“The guys that are cheating are taking something away from the other players,” pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Los Angeles Angels’ player representative to the major league, told reporters.
“That’s what it really boils down to. They’re lying to the fans, they’re lying to their teammates, they’re lying to the (general manager), the owner, and they’re going to get caught.”
Braun decided not to challenge the punishment that abruptly ended his 2013 season on Monday after MLB investigators probing the alleged dispersal of performance enhancing drugs by a now-shut Florida anti-aging clinic presented their evidence to him.
No explanation or detail of Braun’s doping violation have yet been released, but more bans are expected as over a dozen players have been implicated in the Biogenesis scandal.
Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Skip Schumaker took the Braun admission personally and said the game of baseball needs to be free of doping.
“I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down,” said Schumaker. “I don’t want my son associating that with what I’ve worked so hard to do to get to here, and have him compare Braun to me.
“Suspend them all. We need to get it out of baseball.”
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was fed up with doping scandals tarnishing the game.
“I’m tired of steroids. I’m tired of that. Just do things the right way, bottom line,” he told reporters. “There’s a lot of guys that are doing it the right way and I respect those guys.
“It’s just another black eye for our game.”
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.”