Big League Stew

Report: Ryan Braun refuses to answer MLB’s Biogenesis questions; up to 20 suspensions loom after All-Star break, including A-Rod

Big League Stew

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We've waited and waited for the other shoe to drop in the Biogenesis case, and we're not there yet, but a new ESPN "Outside the Lines" report gives us two fresh, interesting nuggets:

• Ryan Braun apparently refused to answer questions from MLB recently about his connection to the clinic and its owner Tony Bosch, who agreed to cooperate with MLB's investigation in June. His Miami-area anti-aging clinic, you'll recall, was exposed as an alleged PED provider for baseball stars in January.

• As many as 20 suspensions are lined up, according to ESPN, and will come down "sometime after next week's All-Star break." Braun and Alex Rodriguez were, of course, among the names mentioned by ESPN. A-Rod, the story says, hasn't been interviewed yet, but should talk to MLB within the next week.

Other players connected to the clinic in the past include Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera. Here's more from the ESPN story:

The question is the length of the suspensions. Sources said the commissioner's office was considering 100-game bans for Braun and Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense, even though neither player was previously suspended for violating MLB's drug policy.

The argument, one source said, would be that they — and possibly other players — committed multiple offenses by receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch and by lying about it.

Bosch's attorneys have met repeatedly with MLB officials over the past month, turning over numerous documents to substantiate his connection to the players named in company documents, sources have said.

In other news: Ryan Braun returns Tuesday to the Milwaukee Brewers lineup after missing a month with a bruised thumb. Sounds like Milwaukee fans might want to enjoy watching him play while they can.

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Though, if Braun's last bout with MLB's PED police is any indication, he won't go down without a fight. Braun and his legal team successfully appealed a 50-game suspension in 2012 after it was ruled that the integrity of his drug-test sample had been compromised.

That's why many view these Biogenesis suspensions as an effort by Bud Selig's office to finally nail Braun and Rodriguez, two players who haven't been suspended for PED use but are guilty in the court of public opinion.

Since MLB had trouble suspending Braun then, it might have trouble making this stand up too. This case is anything but routine, with a star witness in Tony Bosch who is himself a tainted character. The evidence, that we know of anyway, is a collection of incomplete records. As adamant as Braun has been of his innocence and as protective as Rodriguez is about his image, neither star is going to get handed down a suspension and say, "OK, Bud, see you in a few months."

Instead, this will draw out longer, with more lawyers, more witnesses, more headlines — and more damage to the reputations of baseball and its embattled stars.

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Follow @MikeOz and @bigleaguestew, on Twitter, along with the BLS Facebook page.

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