MILWAUKEE — Coming off a face-to-face meeting with his suspended slugger, Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Monday.
Displaying an appearance and using a tone that suggested he was deeply hurt by what’s transpired over the past few days, Attanasio feels the next step for Braun is to speak publicly himself.
But that won’t happen in the near future, as Braun will wait to come forward until Major League Baseball has completed its investigation.
“I think he has to get to the point where he can actually speak about this,” Attanasio said. “Major League Baseball is in the midst of an ongoing investigation. He is obviously now cooperating with baseball and as a result of that, he is going to wait to speak until a point where he’s able to speak.
“He is cooperating in such a way that he is going to let them conclude or get further into the investigation until he talks.”
Attanasio clarified this doesn’t mean Braun is cooperating with investigators against other players in the Biogenesis case, but simply letting Major League Baseball finish before he speaks.
There currently is no timetable for when Braun will come forward and talk.
“I don’t know what the plan is for that,” Attanasio said. “I think he does want to come forward, but I don’t know when that will be.”
Though he met with Braun face-to-face in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Attanasio does not have a full account of what happened, and like many in the organization, doesn’t know all of the details surrounding the case.
What he made clear to Braun is that the five-time All-Star and former National League MVP has a long road ahead of him to even regain the trust of Brewers fans after lying for so long.
“This is a unique circumstance here,” Attanasio said. “I don’t think there is a roadmap for that. It was a year and a half from when this all started to now. This is going to take time. I told Ryan that this is going to take time. No matter how open, honest, truthful, sincere he is in the next press conference that it’s one step in what is going to be (many).
“It’s going to take time. Everyone will know when, if he gets over that threshold, that he has gotten over it, because the community will be in a position that they can embrace him again.”
When asked if Braun can redeem himself, Attanasio replied “We’ll see.”
“The community trusted Ryan,” Attanasio said. “So I understand how this community is reacting as negatively as it is … because it was so trusting, and it’s had its trust betrayed. We’ll all feel it together when it’s working again.”
The owner was then asked how he personally feels about this situation, being as Braun is the team’s best player and a player committed to Milwaukee for the long haul.
“I issued a statement that I was disappointed, and that is for sure the case,” Attanasio said. “I’m sad. When I thought about Milwaukee baseball, this is not what I envisioned. But I recognize also that this organization is bigger than anyone, certainly bigger than me.
“I think we will work together to ride through the difficult times so we can enjoy some good times — and there will be good times again.”
A few media outlets have called for Attanasio to take the bold step of letting Braun go, as impossible of a task as that is with how much money he’s owed. Attanasio was asked point blank if he plans to keep Braun.
“You know, he is under contract with us,” Attanasio said. “I know there is a lot of commentary (now). Right now, the full expectation is to keep him. The full expectation is that he is going to do the right things, he is going to say the right things, and he is going to put in a lot of hard work to get back into folks’ good graces.
“That is going to take some time. It’s not like we are going to be at Opening Day next year and we’re going to be through this. We are not going to be through this.”
Attanasio was then asked if himself or somebody in the organization will be able to advise him through the process.
“I told Ryan that I would like to take a more active role in talking to him at this point going forward,” Attanasio said. “He’s very accepting of that … I think he wants to do the right thing moving forward. This was a first step by coming forward and agreeing to a penalty and being the first player to do that. That is a first step and it is a baby step, but it is a step in the right direction.”
As far as Milwaukee’s 2011 National League Central championship, Attanasio doesn’t feel it is tainted because Braun wasn’t the only player contributing to the achievement.
“That team had so many great players,” Attanasio said. “Ryan was great, but Prince Fielder was pretty damn great. Ax and K-Rod were great. Even Craig Counsell on that team. Rickie (Weeks) had a great season. A lot of guys got us to the finish line in the 2011 season.”