Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun was mired in controversy before this season but he'll get the chance to end it by trying to sway voters to give him the NL MVP once again.
Braun will try to leave that final impression in Wednesday night's season finale against the San Diego Padres.
It didn't appear that Braun would get the chance at back-to-back MVP awards in December when he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for elevated testosterone. That penalty, however, was overturned by an arbitrator in February.
Braun took advantage of that second chance to hit a career-high and NL-leading 41 homers. He's also driven in 112 runs -- two shy of matching his personal best from 2009 -- and batted .320
He hit .452 (19 for 42) during an 11-game hit streak that was snapped Tuesday, but the Brewers (83-78) beat the Padres 4-3 on Martin Maldonado's first career grand slam.
Milwaukee played 10 rookies in that game but is expected to have most of its regulars on the field Wednesday. Corey Hart is perhaps the only questionable player after re-aggravating an injured left foot while diving for a line drive Monday.
"The other guys want to be back in there tomorrow," manager Ron Roenicke told the team's website. "Tonight was a chance for them to sit and watch a game, a chance for us to see some of the young guys again. Hey, we're still trying to win."
With Braun's help, Milwaukee attempted to rally for a playoff berth by winning 24 of 30 from Aug. 20-Sept. 21 but couldn't get any closer than 1½ games behind St. Louis. The Brewers, 5-6 in their last 11, announced that the entire coaching staff is expected to return in 2013.
"This is a really good staff," Roenicke said. "Anytime you change (a coach) you have a chance for somebody to not to click with that person. The longer you are with the guy and if it's the right guy, and he has a personality that he cares about the players, the players will eventually see how much he cares about them."
Yovani Gallardo was expected to get the opportunity to match his career-high 17 wins from a year ago, but Roenicke will instead give right-hander Josh Stinson his first major league start.
Stinson (0-0, 0.00) has made five appearances for the Brewers since being called up from the minors Sept. 4.
"(Gallardo's) been our horse, and he really was last year, too," Roenicke told the team's website. "When you add in his playoff innings, he threw a lot last year."
The Padres (75-86), wrapping up their fourth losing season in five years, are expected to send out Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78) for his eighth career start. He's 0-2 with an 8.78 ERA over his last three and didn't make it past the fifth inning in a 3-1 loss to San Francisco on Friday.
The rookie left-hander is facing Milwaukee for the first time.