In his first game back from a 65-game suspension last season, the Milwaukee Brewers faithful let Ryan Braun know that all is forgiven. In his first at-bat against Braves pitcher Julio Teheran, the nearly 40,000 Brewers fans were on their feet and Braun showed his appreciation by acknowledging the crowd.
Braun batted in his familiar third spot and even with flying out to left field, his teammates understand that number eight needed to get this at-bat out of the way to move past last season.
“It was good for him, he needed that,” Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “It was important for him to know that he’s still loved here, and wanted. This isn’t New York. The fans here are pretty forgiving. He screwed up, acknowledged it, and that’s all you can do.”
Brawn was suspended for the second half of last season after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The five-time All-Star and 2011 MVP is ready for a fresh start with a Brewers team that finished fourth in the National League Central in 2013 with Braun out of the lineup for over half the season.
“It was special,” Braun said, who went 1-for-4, and scored in the Brewers’ 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves. “It was an emotional moment for me. I kind of allowed the adrenaline and the emotion of the moment to take over.”
Though Brewer’s fans may be quick to forgive Braun, they are certainly not ready to forget. “The Hebrew Hammer” (a nickname given to him by his teammates) will need to have a solid 2014 campaign to repair his damaged reputation, which is more likely felt outside the city of Milwaukee. This at-bat was the first step for Braun on a long road to forgiveness.