MILWAUKEE (AP) — Ryan Braun is gone for the year. The Milwaukee Brewers know that much, and they also know they have to move on without him.
The reality of Braun's season-ending suspension began to set in on Tuesday when the Brewers were confronted with a slew of questions about his punishment and the future of the struggling team while the embattled slugger remained silent.
"For us to win games, we need to concentrate on what we're doing on the field," manager Ron Roenicke said before the Brewers hosted the San Diego Padres. "Whether it's having a discussion at the beginning and making sure they know that we still have a job to do and we still have to win ballgames, that can come from me, it can from Doug (general manager Doug Melvin), it can come from a lot of different resources. But that's our focus."
Starting in 2014, Milwaukee owes Braun $117 million in salaries, including a $4 million buyout of a 2021 team option. Braun addressed the team on Monday, the day his punishment was announced by Major League Baseball and the players' association. It was thought to be the start of sanctions involving players reportedly tied to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
But Braun's statement in conjunction with the punishment was vague, and the Brewers kept quiet about what he said to them. However, other players attacked the 2011 NL MVP for his insistence last year that he was clean after an arbitrator overturned his positive test for elevated testosterone because the urine sample had been improperly handled.
"When it comes to Brauny, I really don't know what it is what he's being suspended for," said Logan Schafer, who started in Braun's spot in left field on Tuesday night. "None of that has really come out. I'm sure I'll learn that when you guys learn that.
"I really don't know enough about it to have a personal, emotional feeling toward it. I'm just kind of sitting around waiting and seeing what happens with it." A spokesman for the Brewers said he wasn't aware of any plans for Braun to publicly address the suspension beyond his written statement on Monday, when he acknowledged making "some mistakes" and apologized to anyone he may have disappointed. His teammates also shied away from the issue, even while they were peppered with questions.
"For me, I think the guys around here, there may be some mixed emotions maybe about the situation, but you can never say what some other person should do," second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "So I'm not here to judge anybody."
The rest of the season started when the last-place Brewers recalled outfielder Khris Davis from Triple-A Nashville to take Braun's spot on the roster. Davis hit a three-run homer in the Sounds' 6-5 victory over Albuquerque on Monday night, and then was told he was headed back to the majors.
He had no idea then that he was coming up for Braun. "They told me I was going up and that was it," Davis said. "I didn't (ask why). I just had a smile on my face and just happy to be here, you know?"
Roenicke mentioned Davis, Schafer and Caleb Gindl when asked who would play left in place of Braun, who had been bothered by a right thumb injury. He also said All-Star Jean Segura will get a long look in Braun's usual third spot in the batting order.
"I'm pretty comfortable in knowing that these guys move on," Roenicke said. "They moved on last year when we had the big injuries that really hurt and we move on this year when we've had the injuries that really hurt. They are pretty good at being focused on what we need to do."
But Roenicke acknowledged that this had been far from a routine season for him. "This year has been a rough year," he said. "There's been a lot that's happened. It's certainly been my toughest year."
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