Braun ready to put long winter in the past

PHOENIX – After winning his appeal of a 50-game MLB suspension, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun isn’t foolish enough to believe he’ll never again hear about his positive test for a banned substance.

While Braun spoke to Milwaukee sports writers about his two-run home run – his first Cactus League hit this season – following Milwaukee’s 8-6 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday, members of the national press asked him what kind of treatment he expects to receive as he tours the country this season.

He’s heard from fans, players and pundits alike, and for the most part, Braun said, the comments have been supportive. He knows, though, there is still a vocal group that believes he avoided suspension on a technicality and that he may not have been playing clean when he tested positive last fall.

“People are going to have different opinions,” Braun said. “Most of them don’t know the real story. It’s tough sometimes to base your opinion or formulate a decision when you don’t know what happened. Overall, everybody has been real supportive.”

Don’t expect the reigning National League MVP to do much talking in the near future.

“I highly doubt it,” Braun said. “They’re probably not going to know too much more than they know now.”

Braun hit .332 last season as the Brewers won their first division title in 29 years. He led the National League in slugging percentage (.597), extra-base hits (77) and OPS (.994) and finished among the league leaders in average, total bases (336), runs scored (109), RBI (111), doubles (38), hits (187) and home runs (33).

Those numbers alone are enough to drive opposing fans crazy. But his two-month saga fighting MLB’s drug policy will send them into a full-blown tizzy.

As he’s done for most of his career, Braun plans to silence his critics the only way he knows how.

“I get it,” Braun said. “I know people are going to be paying more attention. But for me, my goal is to try to have the same approach I’ve always had.”

Braun has been greeted with warm ovations from the Brewers fans at Maryvale Baseball Park, Milwaukee’s spring training facility. He’ll get a rousing reception when the Brewers open the season April 6 at Miller Park, but when he goes on the road, he knows what’s coming.

“It’s going to be an adventure every day,” Braun said. “It’s going to be a circus at times.”

Braun will get his first real taste of the circus atmosphere April 9. After opening the season with a three-game series against the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park, the Brewers travel to Chicago’s north side, where they’ll face the rival Chicago Cubs.

“It’s going to be entertaining,” Braun said.