PITTSBURGH – Kirk Gibson would like to have a private conversation with disgraced slugger Ryan Braun.
The Arizona Diamondbacks manager said Sunday that “cheaters” like Braun rob other players of opportunities for moments such as his pinch-hit home run during the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for the Dodgers.
Braun accepted a 65-game suspension last month. The Milwaukee Brewers star apologized for “mistakes” but has yet to publicly admit to using performance-enhancing drugs.
“If I get a chance to see Braun, I’ve got a question for him right to his face, you know?” Gibson said Sunday before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. “Is he about rehearsed (enough) by now, you think? About ready to come out? He’s probably practicing at the theater school somewhere. Just you look at how things like that can influence people’s opportunities and an opportunity to do something like that.”
Gibson had been asked about his famous homer off the Oakland Athletics’ Dennis Eckersley 25 years ago when, unprompted, he referenced Braun. Gibson wouldn’t reveal his exact questions for Braun, but he implied it would concern the 2011 NL division series.
Braun hit .500 during a five-game victory by the Brewers over Gibson’s Diamondbacks. He went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored during a 3-2, 10-inning Milwaukee victory in the deciding Game 5. That month, Braun would test positive under Major League Baseball’s drug program.
“I mean, all things considered, we should have won a game,” Gibson said of Game 5 in 2011. “All things considered, the last game, we tied them up and had a chance to win it. But there were other times in my career where I did overcome cheaters with my teammates. We had our chance.”
Braun successfully appealed the suspension he was given for the 2011 positive test. He was suspended last month in connection with the Biogenesis clinic, an investigation that has also ensnared New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players.
Braun strongly denied any wrongdoing after his first positive test.
“It will be interesting to see what he has to say,” Gibson said of Braun publicly addressing his transgressions. “I said this a long time ago, but I think that people should have an opportunity to ask him some questions and have him answer them unrehearsed. But something tells me he’s getting really prepared for just about anything they can throw at him.”
Gibson said his wife is upset about Braun possibly costing Arizona a chance at a World Series in 2011. Gibson initially defended Braun after his first positive test, implying he should have been given the benefit of the doubt.
“I’d been listening to his line of (expletive),” Gibson said Sunday. “So you take it at face value.”
Gibson, who has been Arizona’s manager since July 2010, won the 1988 NL MVP award along with playing for world championship teams that year and in 1984 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Gibson also played for the Kansas City Royals and Pirates during a 17-season career in which he hit 255 home runs.
The 29-year-old Braun has 211 career home runs. A five-time All Star, Braun won the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2011 NL MVP awards.
“I’m not surprised that he hasn’t addressed people,” Gibson said. “He probably doesn’t give a (expletive) about me. But you know, he’s got it really good, and I was one of the guys who went through many things – work stoppages, etc. – so he could do that. So I would hope he respects me and everyone who stood up for him that came before he played the game.
“If he thinks he’s giving back to the game, he has a different idea of how to give back than I do.”