Milwaukee left fielder could face 50-game suspension if appeal is denied

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NEW YORK — National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for a banned substance and is appealing to avoid a 50-game suspension, according to people familiar with the case.

ESPN cited two sources Saturday in first reporting the result, saying the Milwaukee Brewers slugger tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, adding that a later test by the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal determined the testosterone was synthetic.

Braun was blunt in denying the report, telling USA Today, “It’s B.S.”

A spokesman for Braun said in a statement issued to ESPN and The Associated Press that “there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence.”

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“There was absolutely no intentional violation of the program,” Matthew Hiltzik said in a statement sent by the four-time All-Star left fielder’s representatives.

“While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident that he will ultimately be exonerated,” he said.

If Braun’s appeal is denied, he would be subject to a 50-game suspension. No major-league player has successfully appealed a positive test.

The case is still being appealed to an arbitrator under MLB’s drug program, people familiar with the situation told the AP. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the appeal is still ongoing and said Braun and others involved in the appeals process have known about the positive test since late October.

One of the people said the appeals process is not likely to be concluded until January at the earliest. That person also told the AP that after being informed of the positive test, Braun asked to have another urine test taken, and that the second test was within normal range.

If suspended, Braun would be eligible to return for Milwaukee’s May 31 game at the Los Angeles Dodgers, barring any postponements. He would miss the first 57 days of the major-league season, losing about $1.87 million of his $6 million salary.

Pujols welcomed in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Every time Albert Pujols got close to the metal crowd-control barriers, fans shrieked and shoved forward for autographs and high-fives. With his new red cap shielding his eyes from the brilliant Southern California sun, Pujols soaked in the cheers and the rays on his first day in his new home.

Baseball’s most feared slugger has arrived in Southern California, and his staggering new paychecks aren’t the only reason he left St. Louis for the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols pulled on his new white No. 5 jersey to adoring chants of “We got Albert!”

“It was really emotional,” Pujols said of his decision-making process. “But when you feel there’s somebody out there that wants you really bad and was doing everything he could to bring you to the ballclub, it’s pretty special.”

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