CINCINNATI -- Having taken a night to digest Ryan Braun's statement and collect their thoughts, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and some of his players addressed what the suspended leftfielder said -- and didn't say -- Thursday.
The consensus was it was a good start for Braun, who hadn't been heard from publicly since issuing a brief statement July 22, the day he was suspended for the final 65 games of the season for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
"I think it's good," Roenicke said Friday at Great American Ball Park, where the Brewers opened a three-game weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds.
"I think it's certainly a good first step for Ryan. He's got a long haul ahead of him, and I think this is a good way to let everybody know that he feels bad about what happened, feels bad about not coming out with it earlier. He feels bad about a lot of things -- what the players have to deal with -- and I thought it was good.
"I don't care how people are going to tear this apart and critique it; it doesn't matter what he says, and I told him that. 'It doesn't matter what you say; somebody's going to take it and say that it's bad and is going to bash you. Just don't worry about it. Try to do what you think you need to do.'"
Braun tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2011 and escaped a suspension and then repeatedly denied he had done anything wrong.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, perhaps Braun's staunchest supporter during the ordeal, was one of a handful of teammates Braun called last week to apologize.
"I accept it as a teammate," Lucroy said of the statement. "It's a first step for him. Obviously there's a lot of people out there that are pretty upset about the whole deal, which is understandable. But you've got to understand that people make mistakes, nobody's perfect and we've got to live with the consequences of our actions.
"I think as a team we're going to welcome him back in the spring and hopefully try to get all this stuff behind us and start a new year and turn over a new leaf, really."
Reliever John Axford accepted Braun's personal apology, too, as well as the ones he offered in his statement.
"For me, with the conversation I had with Ryan and reading that (statement), I think that's good for me," he said. "Knowing Ryan and understanding Ryan, I'm going to be able to move forward and I hope other people will be able to, too.
"You can be upset, you can be angry, but if you want to move past it you have to be able to forgive. And that's where I'm at."
One of the criticisms that has been leveled at Braun following the statement was that he didn't provide enough detail about his transgressions.
Braun's statement didn't include the term "performance-enhancing drugs" and referred to what he used -- a cream and a lozenge -- as "products" rather than synthetic testosterone.
Roenicke said Braun didn't need to go into great detail about what it was he used, both because it was largely understood and because Braun could open himself up to legal problems.
"I understand how people would want that," Roenicke said. "Legally, I would really think that he could not do that. Even if he knew exactly what it was, I doubt that either MLB or he could come out and give exact things.
"Does it really matter? He admitted that he messed up. We basically know, so I don't know if he needs to get specific."
Roenicke also said he didn't believe Braun needed to hold a news conference, a point of contention with some who feel he hid behind a statement instead of answering specific questions in an uncontrolled environment.
"I've been thinking about that and I don't, and this is why," Roenicke said. "He's written a letter to the people he needs to write letters to, which is Bud Selig, the players association, whatever. He's apologized to the people he needs to apologize to.
"He's called some of his teammates, the ones that he thought he needed to talk to. He's talked to me. He's talked to (general manager) Doug (Melvin), he's talked to (team principal owner) Mark (Attanasio). His family members, I'm sure, and his close friends. So any time he brings it up again from now on, it's just going to open things up again.
"It can be criticized, 'Why didn't you do this before?' And it's up to him -- he may come out in spring training, and maybe he wants to do it. I don't know. But I don't think he needs to."
Lucroy, on the other hand, said he told Braun he should answer questions.
Lucroy was one of a number of players asked the night of Braun's suspension to address questions for which they didn't have answers.
"Obviously there's some other things that need to be done, and I think he'll do them eventually," Lucroy said. "It's just one step at a time. I'm sure there's some legal things he has to deal with first before he can get into it too deep.
"I just think he's really eager to get everything behind him. I think when the time is right, he'll do it."
If Braun is truly trying to gain back the respect of fans, teammates and others in baseball, shouldn't he have put himself in front of microphones and cameras the way he did after he won his appeal on Feb. 25, 2012?
"I understand that. But I also understand he feels bad about that part," Roenicke said. "He came out and said he had this clouded vision of what was right and wrong at that time, and he states that in his statement.
"I just look at all the things that go on outside of sports, and this is a nice young man. I don't care what anybody says, this is a nice young man. He messed up. I don't want to make light of what he did. He's in a profession where performance is critical, his performance for the fans, his performance for us as a team to win."
Returning to his previous all-star form in 2014 won't solve all of Braun's problems, but showing detractors he can deliver while under the microscope and amid great derision could help his case some.
"I think a lot of people believe that he's not going to be the same player," Lucroy said. "But you can't teach hand-eye coordination. You can't teach it. And you can't cheat to get it. I don't care how much steroids you take. Steroids don't give you hand-eye coordination, and that guy has it.
"He's really talented and gifted in that area. I really believe that he'll come back and be fine. He's too good to not do it."
Braun also issued an apology to Brewers fans later Thursday via an email through the team. He's been in contact with Roenicke, who said he'll give Braun some time to mull his next move.
"I texted some things I thought, and that's probably good," Roenicke said. "He's getting a lot right now, and it's going to go on for a while, and it's going to go on again when he comes to spring training and every city he goes to.
"This is going to be a tough road for him. It's been tough since two years ago, when the things came out, and it's not going away."
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