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NOTES &t 2009-05-08

NOTES &t 2009-05-08
Cincinnati - Several Milwaukee Brewers players had similar opinions regarding Los Angeles Dodgers star leftfielder Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The overwhelming sentiment, even from manager Ken Macha? It is downright stupid to test positive in today's game when players know they're being tested and the system has been in place for years.

"That's the surprise to me," Macha said. "You know you're going to get tested, so be clean. It's a simple statement."

The Brewers' own all-star leftfielder, Ryan Braun, said it is difficult to be shocked when a player's name surfaces as a violator, but what astounds him is the timing.

"It's surprising that he got caught now," Braun said. "Everybody says it was a different culture eight years ago. It was almost the norm. So it's not necessarily surprising when it comes out that guys did it, but it's surprising when a guy of that magnitude gets caught now.

"When you're in that position, when you're on that level, you should know better. It's pretty clearly stated."

Braun said it was "disappointing" to hear about Ramirez, but he said it shows how level the playing field actually probably was a decade ago, with not only hitters doing it, but pitchers, also. For that reason, he said, the numbers Barry Bonds, who never tested positive but is heavily suspected of steroid use, put up still hold weight because they came at a time when no one can say for sure that any player had a distinct advantage over another.

"So if you want to take away numbers from a guy, do you take away 10%, 20%?" Braun said. "You don't know because the hitters were competing against pitchers who were doing it, too."

Both Braun and catcher Jason Kendall said they are extra careful when taking something as simple as cold medicine because there are so many things that can trigger a positive test. They make sure they clear any supplement or medicine with team trainers or conditioning coach Chris Joyner.

Centerfielder Mike Cameron was suspended for the first 25 games last season for testing positive for a banned stimulant.

"I double, triple, quadruple check," Braun said. "All it takes is one time and everything that all these guys have done for 10 or 15 years is essentially meaningless.

"My pride and integrity mean more to me than anything else. At the end of the day it's about your reputation. The one time you mess up, it forever tarnishes that."

But again, the Brewers found it hard to believe how a player like Ramirez, who was a surefire Hall of Famer and considered one of the most naturally gifted hitters ever to pick up a bat before Thursday morning, could test positive in 2009.

"It's still surprising because, I mean we have testing now," infielder Craig Counsell said. "We have this testing and we all hope it's gone, you know? That's what we hope, that nobody ever fails any test because you don't want it to be around anymore. But guys are always going to push the limits of everything."

Macha believes Baseball has the stiffest penalties of all sports for a positive test, but beyond Ramirez's image and reputation being dragged through the mud, this hurts the team that invested $25 million in him this season.

"It's more difficult for the Dodgers to go through 50 games without someone they relied upon to be the main guy in their lineup," Macha said.

Corporan razzed: Backup catcher Carlos Corporan made his major-league debut Wednesday night and got his first hit, although it came against Reds shortstop Paul Janish, who was assigned to mop-up duty in the ninth inning of the Brewers' victory.

After Corporan scored and returned to the dugout, bench coach Willie Randolph joked that the hit didn't officially count in the books because it didn't come off a real pitcher.

"I didn't even realize it wasn't a pitcher throwing," Corporan said. "But it was fun, an experience I'll never forget."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: May 8, 2009

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