Chicago Cubs: Ryan Braun
It was probably enough that Braun was named the league’s top player last season while playing for a National League Central rival. But then there was the matter of that other offseason news he happened to make.
Accused of elevated testosterone levels through the league’s mandatory drug testing program, Braun managed to beat the rap in front of an arbitrator and avoid a mandatory suspension.
Samardzija, appearing on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000, was talking about how Central contenders have lost key players, including Albert Pujols from the St. Louis Cardinals and Prince Fielder from the Brewers. He then mentioned how the Brewers nearly lost another player. Braun's 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy was overturned after a grievance was filed over the handling of his urine sample.
"Obviously the Cardinals won the World Series last year, but they're not the same team," Samardzija said. "Obviously Milwaukee lost a guy, could have lost two, but you know, hey lawyers ... having good lawyers helps out.
"And then you know you're going from there. Every year it seems like the Central is up for grabs and everybody is battling over it, so we need to come to play and just start off quick. I think the worst thing that could happen is you fall way behind in the first month and you're playing catch-up. So as long as we have a good first couple of months and really hit the summer on the right foot, I think there's going to be some excitement around Wrigley and it's definitely going to be a different feeling. I'm unbelievably excited to be a part of it and I can't wait for this to kick off."
Samardzija, who is trying to win a spot in the Cubs' starting rotation, was then asked if he will look at Braun differently, and he said Braun wasn't who he was talking about.
"They have this other guy," Samardzija said before laughing, " but ... no, I won't. To me personally it don't mean nothing to me. We'll try to approach him to get him out and that's that."
Coincidentally, new Cubs manager Dale Sveum was the Brewers hitting coach for the last three seasons.
Sveum helped Braun to the National League MVP award last season. After the season, it was reported that Braun tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, but a required 50-game suspension was lifted Thursday.
“I’m surprised it took that long to get to that question,” Sveum said.
The Braun inquiry was the fifth question Sveum was asked on a day when he led his first full-squad workout as a major-league manager.
“Am I relieved? Yeah sure I’m relieved if it’s over,” Sveum said. “To tell you the truth I’m not going to elaborate any more on that because it’s obviously a very touchy situation right now in [Major League Baseball.] I think I’m just going to stay away from that question right now.”