BOSTON (AP) — From the boos to the bad at-bats, Ryan Braun's first road game since his 65-game suspension was a rough afternoon.
He went 0 for 5 against the Red Sox on Friday. But he was 5 for 5 in getting hooted by Fenway Park's passionate fans. "All I can do is focus on things I can control," Braun said after the Milwaukee Brewers spoiled Boston's home opener with a 6-2 win. "I certainly wasn't anticipating a reception like I got in Milwaukee."
In the season opener at home on Monday, fans applauded loudly as he walked to the plate against the Atlanta Braves. In Boston, the boos started even before the game as the 2011 NL MVP heard them when the starting lineup was announced and Milwaukee players lined up along the third-base line.
The Brewers slugger has apologized several times this offseason after accepting his suspension on July 22 following Major League Baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. The penalty was given for violations of MLB's drug agreement and labor contract.
Braun was the designated hitter and hit in his customary No. 3 position against the Red Sox. He struck out, popped to second base, flied to right, grounded to shortstop and flied to right. A victory "always makes it so much better," Braun said of his struggles. "I'm at a point in my career where I've had a lot of individual success, and the game is so much more fun when the team's winning."
Braun has been dealing with a nerve problem in the area of his right thumb. "It's kind of ebb and flow, up and down," he said. "I hope we find something that eventually makes a difference." That's just one more issue for Braun to deal with as he comes back from his suspension. But he's trying to ignore the boos from opposing fans.
"I've dealt with it for the last couple of years," he said, "so I've had plenty of experience dealing with it and I think regardless of how challenging anything is, the more you deal with it, the easier it becomes to deal with. I dealt with it in 2012, had my best year. Last year I was off to a good start before my early departure."
He knows there's not much he can do to stop fans from expressing themselves. "I don't know if I was yelling at people if that would make any type of difference, and that's not who I am," Braun said. "There's no blueprint for any of this stuff. It's not easy. It's not fun, but I just deal with it the best I can."