Attanasio open to giving Braun second chance
Outfielder working way back from suspension makes strides in spring
PHOENIX -- Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said on Friday morning that his stance on slugger Ryan Braun is to forgive, but not forget.
"America is founded on giving folks a second chance," Attanasio said about the Milwaukee right fielder, who was suspended for the final 65 games of the 2013 season for an infraction of the Major League Baseball Joint Drug Policy. "But he needs to make the most of that second chance, and he knows that."
Attanasio's comments came during the third annual SABR Analytics Conference, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. He was being interviewed at the time by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network in front of an audience of about 400 of the people attending the conference. The interview was not televised.
Braun originally tested positive for using a performance-enhancing drug during the postseason of 2011, but his suspension was overturned on appeal when Braun successfully challenged the chain of custody of the urine sample. Two years ago at the Brewers' Spring Training complex in nearby Maryvale, Braun denied using the substance during a well-publicized news conference.
Last year, Braun was caught up in the Biogenesis scandal along with 13 other players. Braun agreed to the 65-game suspension, 12 others agreed to suspensions of 50-games each, and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez appealed what was originally a 211-game suspension. An arbitrator has ruled that Rodriguez is ineligible to play this year.
"I was just stunned that he had done that, forget about the fact that he had lied about it. And then it sank in," Attanasio said.
Attanasio invited Braun to his own Milwaukee apartment for a heart-to-heart talk. Braun is the face of the Brewers' franchise and in the middle of a contract that will pay him $150 million over 13 years through 2020.
During the hour-long meeting, Braun apologized for what had transpired, telling Attanasio he "would do everything he could to win back my trust, and more importantly, the trust of the fans in the community."
Braun, 30, also publicly apologized in a lengthy letter.
"I thought the right thing to do was to give him the opportunity to win back everyone's trust," Attanasio said. "The guy is a really good player. There was even an editorial in the local paper saying he should be run out of town. MVPs don't come through Milwaukee too often. I'm not going to run someone out of town for being petulant about not telling me the truth. So we're working through it. He's in the second inning of the game here.
"That's where I am. He's done a lot of good things in the community since. He's come forth. He made a terrible mistake at the age of 28. I'm not making excuses for Ryan, but people make bigger mistakes, who are more mature [than he is]."
In seven Cactus League games this spring, Braun is batting .571 (8-for-14) with a pair of homers, two doubles and three RBIs as he's rounding back into the form that won him the National League MVP Award in 2011 over Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.