Braun to appear at awards dinner
“He will be there and he will accept his award,” Matthew Hiltzik told The New York Times.
Hiltzik is a spokesman who was hired by Braun’s agency, CAA Sports, after ESPN’s “Between The Lines” reported in December that Braun tested positive for a banned substance in October and faces a 50-game suspension to begin the 2012 season if he can’t get it overturned in an arbitration hearing.
Braun sent text messages to the Journal Sentinel after that report aired, saying, “I’m completely innocent. This is B.S.” But he has not spoken publicly since that report indicated he tested positive for a very high level of testosterone.
While Braun is expected to give an acceptance speech upon accepting the MVP award, the BBWAA has been informed that he will not do media interviews.
The date of Braun’s arbitration hearing is being kept confidential but is expected to be near the end of the month.
An MLB source told the Journal Sentinel that the Brewers and Braun would know his status before the start of spring training. The Brewers open camp on Feb. 18 with pitchers and catchers reporting.
Braun’s status could still be unknown when he is scheduled to appear at the Brewers “On Deck” fan event on Jan. 29 at the Frontier Airlines Center.
If the Brewers do have to play without Braun for the first 50 games of the season, general manager Doug Melvin noted his outfield will be missing a major power source.
Rightfielder Corey Hart, who could see some time at first base, has decent pop, but Aoki is a singles hitter, as is Nyjer Morgan for the most part, and Carlos Gomez’s power potential is restricted by his platoon status.
“Our outfield may profile less with power in that regard,” said Melvin. “But we do have more power in the infield than most clubs when you look at (Aramis) Ramirez, (Alex) Gonzalez and Rickie Weeks. You’ve got three guys all capable of hitting 15 homers-plus.
“Some clubs are built where the second baseman and shortstop may not be power-type hitters, so their outfield has to be. We have a little bit more balance of that kind of players, guys who can get on base with speed but with infielders more built for power.”
The wild card is how much power the Brewers will get from new first baseman Mat Gamel, assuming he claims the position in spring training as hoped.
Gamel hit 28 home runs in 128 games last season at Class AAA Nashville.
Hart was drafted as a first baseman but moved to third base, then the outfield after Prince Fielder was drafted in 2002.
“I don’t think he’d be playing there a lot but if he has the ability to go over there and play some games and Corey feels comfortable doing it, it’s something we could take a look at in spring training,” said Melvin.
“But I want to make sure that Corey feels comfortable doing it because if he doesn’t I’m not going to force the issue.
Gamel is out of minor-league options, so one way or the other, the Brewers have to make a decision on him in spring camp.
“We need to find out about Mat. He has hit well in the minor leagues. I’d rather exhaust all of our efforts with Mat Gamel in a Brewers uniform than to find out later that he’s performing for someone else.”
The signing of Aoki filled the Brewers’ 40-man roster, so Melvin said it was unlikely he’d have another major-league signing prior to camp.