As the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun jogged toward left field in the first inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs last week, the catcalls cascaded from the Wrigley Field bleachers.
“Ster-oids, ster-oids,” fans chanted.
“Hey, Ryan, I got a syringe for you!” screamed a man in a Cubs jersey well within earshot of Braun, cupping his hands around his mouth.
Braun, his back to the crowd, stared straight ahead.
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The National League’s reigning Most Valuable Player, Braun has been the target of such taunts all season, stemming from a positive test for synthetic testosterone during last year’s playoffs.
Braun was the first major leaguer to win an appeal of a drug test, avoiding a 50-game suspension. Because he was exonerated on what some considered a technicality, questions about the legitimacy of his 2011 season lingered, and he became an easy target for fans.
Amid the jeers, Braun’s 2012 season has gone quite well. Last season, he hit .332 with 33 homers and 111 runs batted in. This year, although the Brewers are not playing nearly as well as they did in 2011, he is batting .310 and leads the league in home runs (36) and RBI (92).
Astros outfielder Ben Francisco was traded to the Rays for a player to be named. The 30-year-old hit .247 with two homers and five RBI in 31 games for Houston. … The Nationals reinstated outfielder Mark DeRosa from the 15-day disabled list and recalled left-handed pitcher John Lannan from Triple-A Syracuse. DeRosa missed the last 25 games with an abdominal injury. … Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann left Saturday’s game with tightness in his right arm, one day after being activated from the 60-day DL after rehabbing a fractured right leg.