Brewers' Braun has regrets, meets with Laurenzi
MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun ended his silence Wednesday, speaking to the media for the first time since accepting a season-ending, 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's anti-drug agreement.
Braun was taking part in a holiday food drive at Miller Park and said he was "deeply remorseful" for his actions but declined to offer specific answers to most questions.
"The goal for me is just being able to move forward," Braun said. "I wish that I could go back and change things but I don't have that opportunity to do that, so I'm just going to do everything in my power to move forward."
Braun was the first star to be suspended as part of the doping scandal surrounding the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida.
The five-time All-Star tested positive for elevated testosterone in October of his 2011 NL MVP season, but his 50-game suspension was overturned when an arbitrator ruled the urine sample was mishandled. All along, Braun maintained his innocence and heavy criticism fell on the urine sample collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr.
Braun said he reached out to Laurenzi and the two are moving forward.
"I have not made any payments to him," Braun said. "I've had some really productive and positive conversations with him. The Laurenzi family was actually gracious and kind enough to have my fiancee Larisa and I over to their house for dinner last night, and we had some really good conversation. We've made amends and I think we're both excited to be able to move forward and put this behind us."
Braun had earlier called baseball's joint drug agreement, calling it "fatally flawed" and suggesting players are "100 percent guilty until proven innocent."
"We won because the truth is on my side," he said at the time.
"I wish that I hadn't done the press conference," Braun said Wednesday. "It was a big mistake. I deeply regret having done it, and a lot of the things that I said that day."
Braun has returned to Miller Park on a few occasions, personally called some Brewers season ticket holders and met with a local charity. Until Wednesday, he had not taken questions about the scandal.
"Because it was an ongoing investigation I wasn't allowed to say very much at that time," Braun said. "Basically based on what I had learned from both Major League Baseball and the players' association, it wasn't in anybody's best interest for me to make any statements at that time. It wasn't about waiting or anything like that. I've been here a few times but I think this is the first time that everybody's been aware that I'm here."
In seven seasons, Braun established himself as one of the game's brightest young stars and appeared in five consecutive All-Star games from 2008-12. He also became the face of the small-market Milwaukee franchise, earning a seven-year, $105 million contract extension that keeps him with the Brewers through the 2020 season.
Owner Mark Attanasio said at one point that Braun would someday have a statue outside of Miller Park. When Braun was suspended, Attanasio expressed his disappointment but vowed that the organization would stand behind the player.
Since the suspension, there has been speculation that the Brewers might trade Braun, including a report last week that the Mets were exploring a possible deal.
Braun made it clear that he hopes to remain in Milwaukee.
"Absolutely I want to stay here," Braun said. "I made the long-term commitment because the city has been amazing to me, the fans have been amazing to me, the organization has been incredibly supportive of me, and I fully intend to stay here. It's flattering that people would be interested. I actually had dinner with (general manager) Doug Melvin, (Brewers manager) Ron (Roenicke) and Mark Attanasio this week. I've seen Mark a lot, and I don't think there's any truth to those rumors. My goal and attention is to say here."
As for repairing relationships, Braun said he has sent commissioner Bud Selig a letter. He didn't get into specifics about his relationship with injured Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers, who expressed disappointment after Braun admitted to doping.
"I'm not going to get into our specific relationship other than to say that he had been a great friend of mine for a long time," he said. "He's a great person, and I hope he gets back on the field soon so he can help those guys win."