PHOENIX (AP) — Hands crossed behind his back, Ryan Braun stepped up in front of the cameras and reporters ready to take the hits.
A long-awaited day had finally arrived: the Brewers slugger is officially back with his team for the first time since being suspended for 65 games for violating Major League Baseball's anti-drug agreement as part of the Biogenesis doping scandal.
Once again, he's sorry. And he's ready to move on.
"I took responsibility for that mistake I made," Braun said Thursday. "For me, my focus again is on this year and moving forward and learning a new position and getting ready for the season."
One that includes a move from left to right field, and questions about whether Braun is over the right thumb injury that also limited him in 2013. But it was that other topic that again dominated a respectful question-and-answer session on a sunny day outside the Brewers spring training complex.
And the 2011 NL MVP offered familiar answers.
"Like I said, I've addressed it multiple times. I appreciate your interest. I appreciate everybody's interest," Braun said to one of several questions about why he used a banned substance. "I understand you have a job to do, but I've already addressed that multiple times at multiple press conferences."
There was a statement in August. A gathering with reporters in Milwaukee during a Thanksgiving food drive. Another press conference at fan outreach event last month, his first major public appearance in Milwaukee since the suspension.
It's easy to see why there's still interest. After the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Braun is perhaps the most well-known player suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
He remains relatively popular in Milwaukee despite the suspension, judging by fans still wearing his No. 8 jersey at the team's winter outreach event. One such fan watched intently from about 50 feet away behind a steel fence at the Maryvale baseball complex, holding on to a yellow Braun jersey.
Nearly two years ago to the day, Braun offered a vociferous proclamation of innocence at spring training. At the time, a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test had been overturned by an arbitrator.
"We won," he said then with conviction, "because the truth is on my side."
Turned out not to be the case.
"Certainly I wish that I hadn't done the press conference. I wish that I had known then what I know now," Braun said Thursday. "If I had, certainly I wouldn't have done it at all."