Suspended slugger Ryan Braun pays visit to Brewers buddies

Ryan Braun dropped by Miller Park on Wednesday just to say hello to teammates he hadn't seen for nearly two months.

The Milwaukee Brewers slugger had not been at the ballpark since July 22, when he accepted a season-ending, 65-game suspension for evidence uncovered in a Major League Baseball investigation that he purchased performance-enhancing drugs from the notorious Biogenesis clinic.

"It was really nice to see him," said manager Ron Roenicke. "All the staff was happy to see him; the players were happy to see him. It was nice he came in."
Braun did not make himself available to the media, leaving before the Brewers held pregame batting practice. Though he's under suspension, Braun is allowed to be at the ballpark before games only. There was no indication he planned to answer questions from reporters before the final homestand ends Sunday night.

Unlike the day he was suspended, when Braun asked to address the team to give them the news, Roenicke said there was no formal clubhouse meeting.

"He just came in to visit," said Roenicke. "He told me awhile ago when we talked that he wanted to come in. He didn't want it to be a distraction. I told him it wouldn't be. So, he came in and I'm really glad he did.

"He looked good. I think all the guys were really happy to see him. He was just in to say hi. He misses the game and he misses the guys, so he wanted to come in and say hi."

Asked if Braun's visit was a one-shot deal, Roenicke said, "Maybe. It just depends. We don't have many games left. So, maybe just that one time."

Asked if he thought Braun would take questions from the media at some point, Roenicke said, "I don't know. I don't know when he's planning to go back.
"For me, he doesn't need to. He's made a statement (that's) enough for me. We need to move on with this. If he decides to, great. That's his decision. But, for me, he doesn't need to. He's already said what happened and what he needs to. That's fine with me and I'm sure it's fine with most of the players."

Right-hander Marco Estrada was surprised to see Braun in the clubhouse.

"I didn't think I'd see him anymore this season," said Estrada. "We talked for a few minutes. I asked how he was doing and he asked me the same. He seemed in good spirits. I'm sure he's dealing with a lot. We didn't talk about that stuff."

Roenicke said he had talked "off and on" over the phone with Braun just to stay in touch.

"It's important for the team to move on with things and for him, also. I know it's been difficult sitting at home and not to be part of this. But he really did not want this to be a distraction to us. So I think it was really good. I think it was great. No way was this a distraction."

Braun wasn't the only visitor to pop in. Corey Hart, who has been out all season after undergoing two knee surgeries, also showed up to catch up with teammates and staff.

Asked if seeing Braun and Hart makes him realize what the Brewers have missed, Roenicke said, "Yes. I really like these guys, too. Not only are they really great players but I really like them. They bring a lot to our team. They bring that atmosphere that when you go out there you know you have these two big horses to help."

Word first got out that Braun was in town earlier in the day when the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin posted photos on its Facebook page of him addressing the staff. Braun was the honorary chairman of the AIDS Walk Wisconsin in Milwaukee last year and met with staffers at ARCW and bought them lunch from Zaffiro's Pizza.

When he was suspended, Braun put out a brief and vague apology, then one month later a longer explanation that left many holes to be filled regarding his saga. As part of his apology process he also made personal phone calls to season-ticket holders, sponsors and suite holders.

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