Ryan Braun on PED use: ‘Whole thing a huge regret, mistake’

MILWAUKEE — Making his first public comments since
accepting a 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers
left fielder Ryan Braun refused to get into specifics on his use of
performance-enhancing drugs but expressed remorse for his actions.

In town for the Brewers Community Foundation’s annual food
drive, Braun took questions from reporters for 14 minutes Wednesday in freezing
cold conditions outside of Helfaer Field overlooking Miller Park.

“Obviously the whole thing is a huge regret,”
Braun said. “It was a huge mistake. I wish that I hadn’t done it. I wish I
could go back and do a lot of things different. I don’t think I could
specifically pinpoint one thing that I regret more than anything else, I regret
all of it. I wish I could go back and change it but I can’t do that.”

Braun wouldn’t speak in detail on the circumstances or
reasons behind his use of performance-enhancing drugs, refusing to truly answer
many of the questions asked to him.

Among things he wouldn’t discuss was how his suspension
would impact future All-Star appearances, future chances at being voted into
the Hall of Fame and if his use of performance-enhancing drugs invalidates his
2011 National League MVP award.

The one thing Braun did let out was that he and fiancee
Larisa Fraser were invited and had dinner Tuesday night with Dino Laurenzi Jr.,
the collector who handled the urine sample that led to the positive test.

“We had some really good conversation,” Braun
said. “We’ve made amends and I think we’re both excited to be able to move
forward and put this behind us.

“They’re really special people and I appreciate them
giving me the opportunity to go to their house and have a conversation in
person.”

Braun was then asked if he regretted slamming Laurenzi the
way he did in his press conference at Maryvale Baseball Park back in February
of 2012 after the arbiter had ruled in his favor. According to Braun, his
“opinion on a lot of those things has definitely changed.”

“I wish that I hadn’t done the press conference,”
Braun said. “It was a big mistake. I deeply regret having done it, and a
lot of the things that I said that day. But again, all I can do is move
forward, and in an effort to do that I’m not going to get into too many
specifics.

“I really don’t think that it does anything too
positive or productive for me, the team, the game of baseball or anybody else.
And in an effort to move forward, I’m not going to discuss that subject.”

Braun accepted MLB’s season-ending suspension on July 22 for
violations of the league’s basic agreement and its joint drug prevention and
treatment program. The former National League MVP initially tested positive for
elevated levels of testosterone in October of 2011 but won his appeal due to an
issue with the sample’s chain of custody.

Starting with the press conference in Arizona, Braun strongly denied using any
sort of performance-enhancing drug, staying he “would bet his life that
this substance never entered his body.”

“I’m deeply remorseful about what happened,” Braun
said. “I wish I had the ability to go back and change things and do things
a lot differently, but unfortunately I can’t do that. All I can do is move on
and try to do everything in my power to earn back peoples’ trust and respect
and support. I don’t anticipate being able to earn back everybody’s support,
but I certainly intend to do everything in my power to do that and I won’t stop
trying.”

Braun hopes to use what has been a long and drawn out
process as a way to help others avoid making the same mistakes. His long road
back continued Wednesday as he met fans as they came to Miller Park to donate
to the food drive.

“I hope that people recognize what I’ve been through
and not want to go through this experience,” Braun said. “It’s been a
lot. It’s been really difficult, really challenging. I would never wish this
situation on anybody. I hope people can view my situation as a learning
experience and something they should try to avoid.”

As far as the reaction he’ll receive on Opening Day, Braun
doesn’t know what to expect, but he said he’s been given support from many
people.

“But I understand people being disappointed, people
being upset and people reacting emotionally,” Braun said. “I don’t
fault anybody for being upset. I don’t know specifically what many people said,
but I don’t fault anybody for being upset or disappointed.”

Trade rumors surrounding Braun have been quickly dispelled
by Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, something conveyed to him during a
recent dinner with Melvin, owner Mark Attanasio and manager Ron Roenicke.

Asked if a fresh start in another city would do him good,
Braun made clear his desire to stay in Milwaukee. Braun doesn’t anticipate any
issues with his teammates, saying everyone has been incredibly supportive.

“Absolutely I want to stay here,” Braun said.
“I made the long-term commitment because the city has been amazing to me,
the fans have been amazing to me, the organization has been incredibly supportive
of me, and I fully intend to stay here.”

Braun knows there always will be many suspicions floated
around if he produces big numbers again and it’s something he’ll have to deal
with for the rest of his playing days. 

“I fully intend to be at least as good as I’ve been to
this point in my career,” Braun said. “Hopefully, I can get better.
But I only focus on the things I can control. I can’t control what people say
or think. This is my fault. I’ve taken full responsibility for my actions. I
put myself in this position and people will have the opportunity to say
whatever they want. I’ll just focus on things I can control.

There was one baseball question asked of Braun on Wednesday,
as he confirmed the Brewers have brought up the possibility of moving from left
field to right field to him.

Milwaukee is trying to make room in the lineup for the bat
of Khris Davis, and he is limited to left field defensively.

“I’m not opposed to it,” Braun said, “I don’t
know exactly what’s going to happen but it’s definitely a possibility. 100
percent, I’ll play wherever they want except third base. That didn’t go well.
But I’ll do whatever we want. It’s  not something set in stone but it’s
something we’ve discussed.”

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