Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Back in Form Overturned Drug Accusation for Brewers' Ryan Braun Still Leading to Some Jeers, but the 2011 NL MVP Shakes It off and Plays Ball

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Back in Form Overturned Drug Accusation for Brewers' Ryan Braun Still Leading to Some Jeers, but the 2011 NL MVP Shakes It off and Plays Ball

Article excerpt

MILWAUKEE -- After a failed drug test called his character into question during a tumultuous offseason, Ryan Braun is the one doing most of the bashing these days -- looking every bit like the reigning NL MVP during a recent hot streak.

At home, he is cheered wildly during every at-bat by big crowds filled with No. 8 jerseys and T-shirts.

He is opening a second restaurant in the Milwaukee area later this year, a joint venture with his pal Aaron Rodgers -- the latest step in what is becoming a full-on, co-MVP Wisconsin sports bromance.

Watching a Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park, there would be almost no way to tell that Braun spent the offseason defending himself against leaked details of a positive test for an elevated testosterone level. An arbitrator overturned a 50-game suspension after Braun and his representatives questioned the methods used to collect his urine sample.

That hasn't bought Braun much slack on the road, where some opposing fans have made it clear that they don't believe his innocence and aren't going to let him forget about it.

"That's a true professional," Brewers centerfielder Nyjer Morgan said. "Words don't explain what he's gone through, just with the offseason and this year when we go on the road and how he's handling it all. It just shows he's well-mannered, well-spoken and he's all about business. You can see that he's definitely got a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. So he's doing a wonderful job with that."

Speaking to reporters before the Brewers' home opener last month, Braun acknowledged he was out to prove something.

"Of course," Braun said April 6. "It's not so much about proving anybody wrong ... as it is proving the people who all believed in me and supported me right. So I'm definitely excited. Very motivated."

Braun might still feel that way, but he's less inclined to talk about it now. Asked this past week whether he felt like he was putting everything behind him, Braun said only, "That's irrelevant."

"I don't think there's really much talk about it now," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "And I think that's a credit to him, how he has handled it. There's been obviously a few cities where he's run into a few boos or jeers, but he hasn't let it affect him."

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said Braun's production is the main indication that he is handling the scrutiny.

"He's second in the National League in home runs, right? He's got like a .980 OPS," Attanasio said this past week.

"I think he's handled it pretty well. And the same way we say the bar has been raised here, the bar has been raised so high for Ryan Braun that second in the league in home runs, people are still saying, 'Well, jeez, you're not quite back yet.' He's doing just fine."

Braun rebounded from a slow start that included an 0-for-16 skid in April. …

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