Ryan Braun suspended for remainder of MLB season

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 season, Major League Baseball announced Monday afternoon.

Braun has accepted the 65-game suspension for violations of the basic agreement and its joint drug prevention and treatment program. The suspension will begin immediately. With an $8.5 million salary this season, Braun will lose $3.41 million over the 65 games.

“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect,” Braun said in a statement released by Major League Baseball. “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

Braun, 29, is hitting .299 with nine home runs and 38 RBI for the Brewers, who currently sit at 41-56 and 18.5 games out of first place.

“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions,” Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Economics & League Affairs for Major League Baseball said in a statement. “We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and the organization did not find out about the suspension until Monday afternoon. Melvin acknowledged he had a conversation with Braun and that Braun did address his teammates before leaving Miller Park, but he would not divulge into details of either conversation.

“From that standpoint as the general manager of the ball club, we’re happy that decision has come to an end,” Melvin said. “We support the commissioner’s drug program. The commissioner’s office, Ryan and the union have all got together and put an end to this so we as a ball club can move forward and concentrate on the 25 players on the field and move forward and try and win as many ballgames as we can.”

Melvin went on to say he was “happy” this was over so the franchise can move forward starting Monday, but also admitted there was a level of disappointment within the organization.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed,” Melvin said. “Obviously I’m disappointed in that he’s a very important player to our organization and to the ball club and to our performance on the field.”

The decision comes with the Brewers seemingly out of contention for the 2013 season and allows the team to move forward into 2014 knowing Braun will be in the team’s lineup on Opening Day. Melvin acknowledged this decision gives him a much better focus heading into the offseason.

When asked if Braun will be with the Brewers next season, Melvin said “He’s wearing a uniform next year, and his focus is to get ready for next year.”

“This has always been a cloud over the ball club not knowing what’s going to happen,” Melvin said. “A lot of speculation (was) out there. You read about it. You hear about it. I didn’t have any idea what’s going on at any time. I only knew what I read in the paper the next day. So you move forward, and you play each day as it comes.

“I am glad, and I think as an organization, we are happy Ryan, the union and  the commissioner’s office has all put their heads together and made a wise decision for baseball and for us, the organization.”

Responding to an ESPN report that he was one of nearly 20 players to be suspended shortly after the All-Star break, Braun rehashed a defense statement on July 9.

“In regards to that whole crazy situation, the truth still hasn’t changed,” Braun said on July 9. “I’m going to continue to respect the process and not discuss anything with the media. Beyond that, the vast majority of stories that have come out are untrue.”

The 2011 National League MVP, Braun’s positive test for performance-enhancing drugs first came into the public eye in December of 2011 when ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported the five-time All-Star was facing a 50-game suspension.

In February of 2012, Braun was cleared of his suspension off an appeal through arbitrator Shyam Das. The chain of custody of Braun’s sample was the basis of the successful appeal.

This April, Braun’s name surfaced in the reports stating the Biogenesis clinic in Miami sold performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players. Major League Baseball has been investigating the case ever since and began interviewing players in June.

“I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step,” Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Union, said in a statement. “It vindicates the rights of all players under (the) Joint Drug Program.”

Braun has been removed from Milwaukee’s 40-man and 25-man roster for the rest of the season. The team will call up a player to fill his roster spot following Monday night’s game against San Diego.

“Baseball does have a great drug program,” Melvin said. “Obviously, they’re trying to make it the best in sports. It’s always an education. We educate all of our players.

“It’s out in the forefront, and you hope people learn from this that baseball is serious with what they are doing with the program and the penalties.”