Ryan Braun confident in abilities heading into 2014

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At the same time the Brewers were finalizing their deal with starter Matt Garza, outfielder Ryan Braun was making the rounds with the media and fans at the “Brewers on Deck” event at the Wisconsin Center earlier today. He was asked about a variety of topics, but mostly about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Braun, of course, had his 2013 season was cut short in late July when he accepted a 65-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis. As Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel details, Braun was apologetic, even mentioning that he had made personal phone calls to suite owners and season ticket holders.

Braun is also confident in his abilities in 2014 and beyond:

If Braun is unsure whether he’ll be able to put up numbers without the ‘extra edge’ he had previously, as one questioner put it, he certainly isn’t letting on.

“I think I’ll be better than I’ve ever been,” he said. “Very confident in that.”

Prior to his suspension last season, Braun had been dealing with some neck problems and a nerve injury in his right hand, resulting in a month-long DL stint. The hand injury sapped him of his power. In his final 31 games, between May 11 and July 21, Braun hit just one home run.

Braun turned 30 years old in November and he still has $24 million in salary remaining between 2014-15 before his five-year, $105 million extension kicks in. Obviously, the Brewers have a lot invested in Braun’s ability to both stay productive and out of trouble.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.