BRADENTON, Fla. -- The dismissal of Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension, by a three-man arbitration panel that had heard his appeal, was predictably the talk of the Pirates' pre-workout clubhouse.While many players joined an informative and analytical discussion of how the verdict came about and what it meant, only one player in there could relate on a personal level. "I wasn't shocked [by the decision]. All the time I've known him, I found Ryan to be very honest and open about everything," said Casey McGehee, who was a teammate with Braun for three-plus seasons in Milwaukee before a December deal brought him to the Pirates. "And all along he said he would be exonerated. "Everyone was in such a hurry to condemn him, so I think a lot of people owe Ryan an apology. I consider him a good friend, and I'm happy for him."
The decision surprised McGehee only in the context of being the first successful appeal of a suspension for a violation of MLB's Drug Program -- as far as known, that is. Any prior overturns would have been confidential, as is the entire process. Even in announcing the result of Braun's appeal, the MLB Players Association pointed out it was doing so only because his positive test had become public knowledge."That's my biggest issue," McGehee said, "and it's very unfortunate. It never should have come out in public. There will still be people saying he got off on a technicality, but there are only three people [the appeal panel] who heard all the facts and came up with a majority decision, and we have to move on. "It's good for baseball, too. One of the best players in the league will be on the field, able to do his job." Braun will be doing it for a National League Central foe of the Pirates -- and of their new infielder. "Absolutely, from a competitive standpoint, it would be better for us for one of the better players in the league to be absent," McGehee said. "At the same time, you don't want someone unfairly accused, or an innocent man found guilty."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.