With or without Braun, Brewers feel confident

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PHOENIX— Ryan Braun’s navy blue No. 8 uniform hangs in one of his corner lockers with a pair of crisp white pants. Four shoeboxes are stacked in his second space.

The wait for Milwaukee’s NL MVP is on at Maryvale Baseball Park. The Brewers might hear this week whether arbitrator Shyam Das will uphold Braun’s 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.

In the meantime, the team is moving forward in preparations for what manager Ron Roenicke expects to be a different formula for winning without departed slugger Prince Fielder and perhaps Braun, too.

Outfielder Nyjer Morgan is among a large contingent of position players already in camp before Saturday’s first full-squad spring training workout.

“Yep, guys are just getting prepared,” Morgan said.

Roenicke said Monday he expects Braun to arrive in time for that initial practice. They traded text messages a few days ago, and Roenicke spoke to his star left fielder a couple of weeks back.

“He’s doing good. He’s been doing good all winter through this,” Roenicke said as his pitchers and catchers took to the field for their first formal session. “He’s excited to get going in spring training, and hopefully the outcome will be how we all want it.”

The Brewers are confident they can make another special playoff run even if they are without Braun early and big run producer Fielder.

Milwaukee won 96 games and the NL Central last season and got by Arizona in the first round before losing in the NL championship series to division rival and eventual World Series champion St. Louis.

Braun began the appeal process last month of his positive test in October, and many figured the Brewers would have an answer regarding his status by the start of spring training.

Matthew Hiltzik, who has spoken on behalf of Braun’s representative team, has said there was “absolutely no intentional violation of the program.”

MLB spokesman Pat Court­ney said Monday he has no indication when a ruling might be.


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