Braun continues to lose respect from colleagues
Milwaukee slugger gets backlash from several players and friends after changing his tune and agreeing to suspension for rest of season because of evidence he used performance-enhancing drugs.
For Ryan Braun, the fallout from his PED suspension has been more than the loss of the remainder of the season.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he was lied to by Braun. Matt Kemp believes he should be retroactively awarded the 2011 MVP Award. Dodgers infielder Skip Schumaker said he’s taking down an autographed jersey of Braun displayed at his home because “I don’t want my son identifying (this with) what I’ve worked so hard to get to and worked so hard to have. I don’t want him comparing Braun to me.”
And some Diamondback players spoke out about the 2011 NLDS, in which Braun went 9 for 18 with four doubles, a homer and four runs batted in to lead the Brewers to a five-game victory.
“It’s frustrating to know that maybe you were cheated on the other side of it a little bit,” Arizona infielder Willie Bloomquist told reporters.
“Does it (tick) me off? Yeah. We busted our butt that series and left everything we had on the field and came up a little bit short. Who knows what might have happened? Maybe there is a different outcome. Maybe there is not.”
Braun’s positive test reportedly was administered after Game 1 of the NLDS. He was initially suspended 50 games but the penalty was overturned on appeal.
“It’s frustrating that guys are still trying to beat the system,” Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler said.
“It’s also frustrating that he’s essentially accepting responsibility for it now, which essentially means that everything he said back in the beginning of 2012 was a lie.”
Nationals manager no fan of GM’s decision
Washington manager Davey Johnson made it crystal clear that he did not agree with the decision of Nationals GM Mike Rizzo to fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein on Monday. Rick Schu, the organization’s minor-league hitting coordinator, took over.
“I’ve experienced a lot of things in my career,” Johnson told reporters. “I’ve been traded, I’ve been released, I’ve been sold, I’ve been fired. But today is arguably the toughest day I’ve had in baseball.
“I respect Rick Eckstein, I think he’s a great coach. I think he’s one of, if not the best hitting instructor in baseball. He’s just a great gentleman and a great man. It hurts.
“Obviously I’m not in agreement with it.”
Notes and quotes
• Since coming off the disabled list, Tampa Bay’s David Price is pitching better than he did last year in his Cy Young season.
In five starts, Price is 4-1 with a 1.75 earned-run average. He has three complete games, all of them under 100 pitches. He has thrown 330 of his 450 pitches for strikes in his last four starts.
“It’s hard to imagine a guy pitching better than he is right now, ’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. “It’s the strike-throwing component that has been unbelievable. … The velocity is up, everything is up. It’s just a sharper version of last year.’’
• Among the teams clearly in the market for a short reliever – such as, potentially, Oliver Perez – are the Tigers and Pirates. Detroit’s setup men have struggled so much that manager Jim Leyland had to use closer Joaquin Benoit in a non-save situation in the ninth on back-to-back nights in Chicago because other relievers had struggled and he didn’t want to risk blowing the lead.
The Pirates will be without All-Star closer Jason Grilli for four to eight weeks after he was sidelined with a flexor strain in his right arm.
Mark Melancon, an All-Star himself this year, moves from setup to closing, but the Pirates could use help in the eighth inning.
• The Orioles, meanwhile, are in the market for a designated hitter, which has been a problem area all season. They are currently using 26-year-old Cuban Henry Urrutia, who has just three months in pro ball, after sending Danny Valencia back to the minors and designating Chris Dickerson for assignment.
• One more team with a sudden need is the Braves, who lost veteran starter Tim Hudson for the season with an ankle injury.
“A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind since last night,” Braves general manager Frank Wren told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12 hours after Hudson broke his ankle. “It’s created a lot more (trade) discussions, there’s no question.”
The Braves are also seeking a left-handed reliever.
• George Brett’s decision on Thursday to step down as interim hitting coach leaves former Mariner executive and minor-league manager Pedro Grifol as the Royals’ hitting coach. Grifol had been serving as Brett’s assistant after starting the season as the hitting coach at Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League.
“The players have taken to Pedro in a great manner,” Brett told The Kansas City Star.