His voice self-assured, Ryan Braun stood a few feet from the batter’s box in Phoenix and hit back at those he feels tarnished his name and image.
The NL MVP insisted Friday that he always believed his 50-game suspension for a positive drug test would be overturned and that he would be able to suit up opening day along with Milwaukee teammates who never doubted him.
“We won,” he said with conviction, “because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant, and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed.”
Less than 24 hours after Braun’s suspension was overturned by an arbitrator, a decision that irritated Major League Baseball officials, the star outfielder was back with the Brewers. With many of his teammates, all in full uniform, sitting in the stands of Maryvale Baseball Park, Braun confidently professed his innocence while questioning the system that allowed him to be suspended for failing a test he took after a playoff game on Oct. 1.
He is the first major- league player to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty in a grievance, ending what he called a four-month personal nightmare.
“There were a lot of times where I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, attack everybody as I’ve been attacked as my name has been dragged through the mud as everything in my entire life has been called into question. I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, but at the end of the day I recognize what is best for the game of baseball,” Braun said.
“I can’t ever get that time in my life back.”
Braun rarely looked at his notes while laying out a detailed timeline of events that led to his suspension. He was poised and prepared as he took the first steps in trying to repair his reputation.
Soon after thanking teammates and fans, Braun expressed disappointment that the confidentiality of his urine test was broken. ESPN first reported his failed test for a high testosterone level in October. Braun, who batted .332 with 33 homers and 111 RBI last year while leading the Brewers to the Central Division title, called some reports he did not single out “inaccurate, erroneous and completely fabricated.”
Tigers’ Inge to try second
Brandon Inge already had a lot to prove after hitting .197 last year. Then Detroit’s big offseason move created a major roadblock. The Tigers signed Prince Fielder in January, moving Miguel Cabrera to third base and turning Inge into even more of an afterthought entering his 12th season with the Tigers. That’s when the veteran infielder had an idea.
“I just wanted to play,” Inge said. “Any spot that I can get — as far as trying to play on the field — I’m happy for the opportunity.”
Inge is trying to move to second base, a position he’s never played during his major-league career.
Jeter eager to keep playing
Derek Jeter says he has no plans to follow Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte into retirement — yet. “If I didn’t think I was capable of playing at a high level, then I would go home,” Jeter said Friday, reporting day for New York Yankees position players. “If I wasn’t enjoying myself, enjoying the competition, then it would be time to go home.”
The Yankees’ shortstop is starting his 18th big league season and could very well be the last member of the Yankees’ Core Four after this year. Posada has joined Pettitte in retirement. The fourth player, Mariano Rivera, reported this week to training camp.