Braun not happy with head-high throw
Brewers slugger channels anger into action with homer
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun said he did not think the pitch from Cubs starter Ryan Dempster that buzzed Braun's helmet on Saturday was fired with intent. That didn't make Braun any less angry about it.
"If somebody throws at your face, that's your livelihood," Braun said. "I really don't think that he did it intentionally, but if you throw at my face, you throw at my face. From everything I've heard, Dempster is a great guy and I highly doubt he did it intentionally. Regardless, it's not fun."
That's about all Braun had to say about the incident, which came in the fifth inning of what at the time was a 3-2 game. His silence was a markedly different approach than the one Braun took earlier this month, when Braun had plenty of choice words for Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens after a Karstens pitch split Braun's shoulder blades.
Karstens wasn't ejected from the game, but he later was fined $1,000 by Major League Baseball for the wayward pitch. Braun's postgame comments hinting at retaliation might have warranted a fine as well, and perhaps that was why he had little to say about Dempster on Sunday morning before the Brewers and Cubs finished a three-game series.
"I'm not even going to get into it at all. Not yet," Braun said. "Once my house gets furnished, I'll go kick it on the beach in Malibu for a while and be cool. Until then, I've got nothing to say."
Plate umpire Jerry Crawford said Braun was hit in the helmet by Dempster's fastball, though replays showed it probably missed and hit Braun's bat instead. Braun scored payback two innings later when he hit the second of back-to-back Brewers home runs in what turned into a six-run outburst.
Braun stared long and hard at Dempster after he connected with the baseball, then began a slow trot around the bases. It apparently offended Cubs television analyst Bob Brenly.
"I tell you, Braun had some issues with his rib muscles early in the season," Brenly said on the Comcast cable network. "He may have some issues with his rib muscles as the season progresses if he acts like that one every home run he hits."
Brewers right fielder Corey Hart didn't blame Braun for being upset.
"It's usually your best player who other teams try to intimidate a little bit, and he's our best guy," Hart said. "They're not necessarily throwing at him, but they're trying to throw inside to make him uncomfortable, just because he's going so good up there. Maybe they're also trying to cause some ill-effects by making him mad."
"Some guys just take it, and some guys get mad and do something about it," Hart said. "You try to use it for your next at-bat."
Did Brewers manager Ken Macha have a problem with Braun's reaction?
"I enjoy watching Rickie [Weeks] hit a home run and run around the bases," said Macha, a reference to Weeks' head-down trot. "That's old school. That's what I prefer."
But today's players have more style, Macha admitted, a trend popularized by flashy stars like incoming Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who always seemed to take a few moments to admire his home runs. Braun himself has defended his reaction to certain homers, arguing that he's not trying to show up the pitcher but rather responding to an emotional moment.
Whether or not Braun acted badly in the seventh inning, Macha thinks that MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson should take a look at Dempster's pitch in the fifth.
"The league frowns upon people throwing at people's heads," Macha said. "I don't know if Bob Watson has looked at it or not. But I don't think that's a good idea, throwing at people's heads."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.