MIAMI (AP) - Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke strongly defended slugger Ryan Braun on Saturday night, saying he’s upset over the possibility that the 2011 NL MVP was linked to baseball’s latest drug investigation for no good reason.
Braun’s name appears in records from the Biogenesis of America LLC clinic, a defunct business in Coral Gables that allegedly provided performance-enhancing substances to a number of players, including Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz. The original report about the clinic was published by Miami New Times, and Braun’s tie to the clinic was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Braun has said he used the person who ran the clinic, Anthony Bosch, only as a consultant in his defense last year when he successfully fought what would have been a 50-game suspension after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the 2011 postseason. An arbitrator overturned that suspension during spring training last year after finding chain-of-custody issues involving the sample.
“It’s upsetting to me when they make comments when there may be nothing to it, because you can’t take those comments back,” Roenicke told The Associated Press.
Roenicke was speaking Saturday night at Florida International University’s annual baseball banquet.
Braun said his name was in the Biogenesis records because of an issue over payment to Bosch. The records, according to Yahoo, do not show any specific performance-enhancing drugs being listed next to Braun’s name.
“I really care about the guy and I like him,” Roenicke said. “He knows that and I can talk to him about anything. He’s had some tough times. This last offseason, tough offseason going through what he did. This offseason, the latest rumors out of here, his name is mentioned again. So he’ll have to go through some of that.”
Braun played college ball at Miami, which has also been linked to baseball’s investigation. A strength and conditioning coach for the Hurricanes also appears in the clinic’s records, and Miami officials say they are looking into why that was the case. The school has not announced any change in the employment status of the strength coach, Jimmy Goins.
The latest drug scandal has been the talk of the game in recent weeks, especially with spring training camps set to open around the majors in the coming days.
“For me, if any player is taking PEDs now, it’s just shocking to me _ because you’re going to get caught,” Miami Marlins president David Samson said Saturday at a separate event. “You can’t have that big an ego. You can’t. The testing is good.”
Many of the players listed in the New Times story and others either played at or have been known to do at least some of their offseason training at Miami. Of those, the most notable is Rodriguez, who is also a trustee at the university and has his name on the baseball stadium after pledging $3.9 million toward a renovation project several years ago.
“So no matter if it’s just a payment that wasn’t made and that was it, his name’s still out there and it’s not right,” Roenicke said. “When a story’s put out there, they need to know if they drop a name, they need to know why they’re dropping that name. If there’s reason to drop it, fine. But if they have no idea why they’re dropping the name, not fair.”
Braun batted .319 with a career-high 41 home runs and 112 RBIs for the Brewers last season. The 41 homers topped the NL, and put him only three behind Miguel Cabrera’s major-league-leading total of 44 for the Detroit Tigers.
“He was the same guy last year, but he didn’t have a day that went by where what happened wasn’t on his mind,” Roenicke said. “It was hard on him. It was hard on him but it shows what kind of player he is, what kind of person he is, to turn around and have that kind of season he had last year.”
Major League Baseball is attempting to gain access to the clinic’s documents and establish a chain of evidence that could be used to justify any potential suspension for violating the sport’s drug agreement. MLB has declined comment other than to say it is investigating.