Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, ready to resume his All-Star career after a 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's anti-drug policy, took part in the team's annual fan festival and admitted, "I don't ever know if I could apologize enough for what's occurred."
Braun reportedly received a warm welcome, except for one heckler, when he was introduced Sunday at a downtown Milwaukee convention center during the Brewers On Deck event. Braun had drawn the contempt of many fans and baseball officials because he originally denied using performance-enhancing drugs, beat the charge on a technicality and then proceeded to claim his innocence while taking to task everyone involved in the case.
“I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can't," Braun told reporters before the event. "All I can do is move forward and make the best of the opportunities presented to me.
"I've always taken tremendous pride in being a role model. I made a huge mistake. I've paid a great price for that mistake. I deeply regret it. I wish I could change it."
Braun was an All-American in high school at Granada Hills and college at Miami, then started his major league career by being selected the National League rookie of the year in 2007. He edged the Dodgers' Matt Kemp for the NL most valuable player in 2011 after batting .332 with 33 home runs and 111 runs batted in. He was second in MVP voting in 2012 to Giants catcher Buster Posey when batting .319 with 41 homers and 112 RBIs.
The five-time All-Star is a career .312 hitter with 211 homers and 681 RBIs in a seven-year career, although he played only 30 games last season, when he was also troubled by an injured thumb. But Braun said he's fit and ready for spring training.
"I think I'll be better than I've ever been," he said. "Very confident in that."