MLB official says Ryan Braun’s 50-game PED suspension is unlikely to be overturned

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At some point within the next few weeks, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will have the opportunity to plead his innocence against a charge that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs around the start of the 2011 postseason. But he faces great odds.

The evidence against him comes in the form of a test, administered in either late September or early October, that had a positive reading for elevated levels of testosterone. That test was then passed along to the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, where it was determined through further examination that the testosterone was synthetic — not produced by Braun’s body.

Braun might argue that the result was a false-positive, but an expert in the field of drug testing told Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports last month that those are “almost impossible” with today’s technology. Braun might say that result was triggered by a prescribed medication — something non-performance-enhancing — but how can he prove that and would it really matter if he could? The test showed insanely high levels of unnatural testosterone. However that testosterone arrived in Braun’s system, it’s against the rules for it to be there.

And even if Braun is telling the truth, and has never put synthetic testosterone into his body, a test that boasts an accuracy rating of nearly 100 percent says that the stuff was, at one point, present.

Which leads us to a report from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was told this weekend by an “MLB official familiar with the process” that Braun’s 50-game suspension is unlikely to be overturned. The 2011 NL MVP deserves his day in court, and he’ll get it later this month when he presents his case in front of an arbitrator, but it’s nearly certain that he’ll miss close to one-third of the 2012 campaign.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.