MILWAUKEE » Suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is personally calling fans and offering an apology for using performance-enhancing drugs, the team said today.
"It was his idea," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers’ chief operating officer. "He came to us and said he wanted to call fans," including season ticket holders, partial season ticket holders and individual buyers.
The Brewers turned over a list of several dozen random names, Schlesinger said.
"He said he wanted to call everybody on the list," Schlesinger added.
After Braun started making calls Thursday, the Brewers began to hear from some of the fans he called, according to Tyler Barnes, the Brewers vice president of communications.
"They were appreciative of the outreach. The vast majority were appreciative of it. We think it’s a nice gesture on Ryan’s part. We realize some are going to be grateful and others are going to be a little more hesitant," Barnes said.
On July 22, Braun agreed to a 65-game suspension resulting from Major League Baseball’s investigation of the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of providing banned substances to players. Braun admitted he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury during his 2011 National League MVP season.
Wes Aldridge was among fans who got a call, but at first was skeptical it was actually Braun.
"At first, I was just waiting for somebody to say we’re pulling your leg here," Aldridge told WTMJ-AM in Milwaukee. Aldridge said he didn’t waste any time getting to the question on the mind of many Brewers’ fans.
"I asked him point blank, I said ‘Why a guy like you, that has all the talent in the world, why would you do something like this?’" Aldridge said. "And he said it was a mistake a friend of his had talked him into and that he was really sorry for his actions."
The two talked for about five minutes, Aldridge said, but the conversation didn’t win him over.
"I thought it took a lot on his part to call, because that’s got to be a very hard thing to do. Did I necessarily believe him? No," Aldridge told WTMJ.
Schlesinger said he has talked to Braun about the calls, which he said were ongoing.
"He expects some fans will still be angry with him and tell him so on the phone. He wanted to hear the good, the bad and the ugly," Schlesinger said.