Suspended Braun making house calls

McClatchy news servicesSeptember 7, 2013 

Suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is personally calling fans and offering an apology for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Wes Aldridge of Muskego got a call at his office, a phone number he had provided to the Brewers as a season-ticket holder. Aldridge was skeptical when the caller said he was Ryan Braun.

“I looked around at the other phones in the office to see who was messing with me,” he said Friday.

Aldridge said he didn’t waste any time getting to the question on the mind of many Brewers’ fans. Why would he take a banned substance?

“The only thing he said was he had a friend that gave him the item and he didn’t think it would do any harm at that time,” Aldridge said.

Braun, who agreed to a 65-game suspension, admitted he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury during his 2011 National League MVP season.

“It was his idea,” said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers’ chief operating officer. “He came to us and said he wanted to call fans,” including season-ticket holders, partial season-ticket holders and individual buyers. The Brewers turned over a list of several-dozen random names, Schlesinger said.

After Braun started making calls, the Brewers began to hear from some of the fans he called, according to Tyler Barnes, the Brewers’ vice president of communications.

“They were appreciative of the outreach. The vast majority were appreciative of it,” Barnes said.

MAUER NOT OK TO PLAY

Minnesota’s Joe Mauer has not cleared his concussion symptoms yet.

The All-Star catcher for the Twins was missing from the lineup for the 16th consecutive game, when Minnesota started a series against Toronto. Mauer said he had “a good day” after taking batting practice, but the recovery process has been slow.

Mauer said there’s no timetable for his return but that he hopes to be back “sooner than later.” He was hit in the facemask by a foul ball on Aug. 19.

SHORT HOPS

Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has returned to his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., to be with wife Melissa for the birth of their first child. … Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is out of the lineup against the New York Yankees because of a sore right foot. … The Rockies activated pitchers Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz from the 15-day disabled list. Oswalt had been sidelined by a strained left hamstring, while Pomeranz had been out with left biceps tendintis. … Cubs veteran right-hander Scott Baker, who has been on the 60-day disabled list after having Tommy John surgery, will make his season debut Sunday against the Brewers. … Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano left his start in the second inning against the Reds with a mild groin strain. … Mets left-hander Scott Rice, who leads the majors with 73 appearances, will have sports hernia surgery and miss the remainder of the season. … Nationals center fielder Denard Span was a late scratch for Friday’s game against the Miami Marlins with tightness in his groin.

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