Braun backs away from criticism
MILWAUKEE -- After a meeting with general manager Doug Melvin, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun spent Tuesday backing away from the strong comments about the team's need to improve its pitching staff he made over the weekend.
Braun said he and Melvin -- who rarely criticizes players in public, but broke character to chide Braun for his comments in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday -- had worked through their issues.
"At times, I am emotional," Braun said Tuesday. "I am passionate, and [my comments] derived from wanting to win. I definitely take full responsibility for that. That being said, me and Doug are cool. Everything is good. I have no issues with anybody. I apologized if I offended anybody in the organization. That clearly wasn't my intent. I wasn't trying to disrespect anybody. I wasn't trying to call anybody out."
That's not what it sounded like Sunday, though.
Braun said after Milwaukee's 8-2 loss to the Cubs in Chicago, the Brewers' third loss in a four-game series with their NL Central rivals, that the Cubs' pitching staff is better. Braun also said he hoped Melvin would make a move soon to improve the team.
"I wish I got to make decisions like that," Braun said Sunday. "But I know he's trying to make our ballclub better. I know he understands the significance of making a move and making it soon."
Braun also laid the team's recent struggles directly at the feet of the team's struggling pitching staff.
"No matter who is in there, we have to find a way to throw the ball better for us to have success," Braun said Sunday. "I think when you're constantly behind in games, it's not easy and it's not fun. Their starting pitcher was clearly better than ours this series."
Melvin then told the Journal Sentinel that Braun's comments "ticked me off," and considered them disrespectful to people in the team's front office.
"We all work every day from 9 a.m. to midnight, and basically 12 months a year," Melvin told the paper. "I'll be glad to have Ryan help if he wants to. I'll give him a badge and he can be my deputy."
Melvin was not available for comment Tuesday.
Brewers manager Ken Macha said he considered the incident resolved and stressed the importance of everyone being on the same page.
Milwaukee entered Tuesday's three-game home series with St. Louis having slipped to a game behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. Pitching has been a significant problem, with Dave Bush on the disabled list with a micro tear of his right triceps muscle and Manny Parra working out his control issues in the minor leagues.
But Macha pointed out that pitchers shouldn't take all the blame for the team's recent struggles.
"Look at some of the games we've played, 1-0, 2-1 and that's recent," Macha said. "We probably could have used a few more hits, too. That's for the players all to figure out. You try to let the clubhouse figure itself out and most of the times it does."
Braun said Tuesday that his comments could be attributed to his competitive nature, and insisted they had been blown out of proportion.
"Everybody wants to win," Braun said. "That's the reality of it. It's not going to jeopardize my relationship with [Melvin]. It's not going to jeopardize my relationship with the organization."
Braun vowed to learn from the incident.
"I strive when I'm dealing with the media to be honest and sometimes I am honest to a fault," Braun said. "It gets me in trouble. I recognize that. It's a strength and a weakness and it's something that I need to be more aware of I think at times."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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