Ryan Braun’s PED suspension appeal was heard Thursday

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Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally got his day in court on Thursday afternoon. Here’s the story, from reporters Bill Madden, Andy Martino and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News:

Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player, pleaded his case Thursday before a three-member panel that will decide whether he faces a 50-game suspension for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

The appeal came just two days before Braun will accept his MVP award at the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s dinner Saturday night at the New York Hilton, sources familiar with Braun told the Daily News.

The panel, made up of MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred and independent arbitrator Shyam Das, is not expected to reach a decision before Braun accepts his award. But our guess would be that it won’t take more than a week.

Braun is maintaining a cry of innocence, but that early-October PED test showed insanely high levels of synthetic testosterone in his bloodstream and you have to wonder how he could possibly attempt to prove that it wasn’t ever there. Calling the test result a false-positive isn’t going to cut it, and arguing that something non performance-enhancing triggered the positive reading would require a whole lot of convincing.

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.