LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says he does not need to hear specifics of Ryan Braun's use of performance-enhancing drugs to move forward with the embattled star.
"This is a really good, young man," Roenicke said during a media session Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings. "He made a mistake, but this is a really good, young man.
"If you are OK with people making mistakes, which I certainly am, you've got to look at what kind of person this guy is. This is a good guy."
Since being suspended for the final 65 games of the 2013 season for buying PEDs from the scandalous Biogenesis clinic, Braun has refused to provide specifics of what he did, when he did it and why. He issued a somewhat vague statement of apology in which he referred to using "a cream" and "lozenges" to help him recover from an unspecified injury.
During media availability at the Brewers' annual food drive the day before Thanksgiving, Braun deflected all specific questions about his PED use. The only revelation he made was that he had dinner at the home of Dino Laurenzi Jr., the urine specimen collector whom he accused of tampering after winning an appeal of a positive drug test in 2011. Braun said he had made amends with Laurenzi, who has declined to address the matter.
Fans and media criticized Braun' fraudulent words and actions after winning that appeal more so than his use of synthetic testosterone. Roenicke said Braun knows he will hear boos from fans on the road and perhaps at Miller Park as well.
"He knows what he' up against, and he knew it last year coming out of spring training," said Roenicke, who attended Braun's wedding Saturday in Malibu, Calif. "I think the better he plays, the more receptive he will be to everybody at home.
"I think he's wondering what it will be like (at Miller Park). I'm wondering what it will be like. I don't think it will be an issue with the players. But I'm wondering what will happen with the fans."
As for Braun being less than forthcoming about details of his PED use, Roenicke said, "I don't think there's much there. I think with him going back to Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, it was a nice step. But the more I think about it, anything he says at this point about what happened is never going to satisfy everybody. All it's going to do is start up new controversy. It's going to come across negative to somebody in the press, in the news.
"For him to have to go through that stuff again, to tell you the truth, I don't think he needs to go there. If he wants to, fine. I think there's things he can't say and I think there are things he doesn't want to say. I think the agreement these guys have with MLB and the (players) association, there are things they'd rather them stay away from. That's been the case with almost everybody.
"I don't get what the reason is that everybody needs to know exactly what happened. I don't understand that part of it. Everybody knows he did some things he shouldn't have done and we move on.
"To be honest with you, I don't really need to know. He made a mistake. All I need to know is how is he going to be when he comes back? How is his relationship going to be with players, with fans, with management? I know he's going to be physically ready to go after it. He's a hard worker."
Roenicke said he talked to Braun about moving from left field to right in the wake of Norichika Aoki being traded to Kansas City. The Brewers want to give young slugger Khris Davis a chance to play in left, his best position.
"I think Ryan enjoys sometimes being challenged," said Roenicke. "Going to right field is certainly a new venture for him. He's got the tool set to do it, no question. He's got good speed. He's got a strong, accurate arm and good judgment. All of that plays into a rightfielder.
"Hopefully, Ryan takes well to right field. He'll have the whole spring to do it."
Waiting for Hart response: The Brewers made a formal offer to free-agent first baseman Corey Hart and were awaiting a response from agent Jeff Berry. General manager Doug Melvin indicated he anticipated an answer before the winter meetings end Thursday.
"We'll probably get some sense of that before we leave," said Melvin.
Melvin declined to say what type of proposal the Brewers made because other clubs are interested in Hart and he didn't want to tip his hand. In all likelihood, the offer was for one year at a much lower price than his $10 million salary in 2013, with incentives involved.
Melvin wouldn't say if he gave a deadline for a response but did say, "Things are coming into a picture. We're hoping and thinking they will (respond at the meetings). They probably need to know, too."
The Brewers want to know where they stand with Hart because if he doesn't return to Milwaukee, they are expected to trade for a first baseman. One likely candidate is the New York Mets' Ike Davis. They had backed off Miami's Logan Morrison but might have interest in Texas' Mitch Moreland and Seattle's Justin Smoak.
Otherwise, the options would be limited to unproven Juan Francisco and an assortment of prospects including Hunter Morris, Jason Rogers and Sean Halton. Those three prospects currently are ticketed for Class AAA Nashville, where there will be a logjam, but Melvin second-guessed himself for not calling up Morris last September to get some experience.
This and that: Roenicke addressed a variety of personnel situations as the Brewers prepare for the 2014 season:
He conceded there was no obvious answer in the leadoff spot with Aoki gone and indicated Scooter Gennett, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez are being considered. Rickie Weeks has vast experience as a leadoff hitter but Roenicke said Gennett earned the right to be given an opportunity to win the second-base job.
Tyler Thornburg (2-1, 1.74 ERA in seven starts) will get first crack at the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation behind Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada. Newly acquired left-hander Will Smith will be looked at as a starter first but could settle into a bullpen role.
On being so right-handed, both in the lineup and pitching staff: "Offensively, it doesn't bother me at all because since I've been here our winning percentage is better against right-handers than left-handers. You get the best guy you can for the job. It doesn't matter to me if he's right-handed or left-handed."
On likely low expectations for the team in 2014: "It's fun when you're not picked to win something and you end up having a great year. We know going in that's where it's going to be. I look forward to all challenges."
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