Wrigley reception likely negative for Crew duo

Wrigley reception likely negative for Crew duo

Wrigley reception likely negative for Crew duo
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' middle-of-the-order hitters will probably get a rude reception when the team plays its first 2012 road game at Wrigley Field on Monday night.

Three-hole hitter Ryan Braun is playing his first regular season away game since successfully appealing a suspension over the winter. Cleanup man Aramis Ramirez is returning as an enemy after parts of nine seasons with the Cubs.

Ramirez said he isn't sure what kind of reception he'll get. But he has a hunch about Braun.

"I think it's going to be ugly for Braun everywhere we go," Ramirez said. "On the road, it's going to be tough for him. He knows it. That's no secret. Plus, he got a taste of it in Spring Training. Everywhere we go, he was getting booed.

"But that's a good player, and he's tough. He's tough mentally, and I think he's going to be OK. He's a good enough player to separate that from his game."

Braun went 4-for-12 in the Brewers' opening series against St. Louis, including his first home run in the ninth inning of Sunday's series finale. He was asked about going on the road.

"It's not me going on the road," Braun said. "It's us going on the road."

Wrigley Field has never been very friendly to him, anyway.

"I don't think I've ever been there and had them applaud me," Braun said. "So I don't expect anything different."

As for how Cubs fans will greet Ramirez's return?

"I don't know. That's a good question," Ramirez said. "I had a great career there. I played for some good teams and also played for some bad teams. I guess you have to ask the fans."

He had a similar experience in September 2003, when Ramirez returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since a midseason trade from the Pirates to the Cubs. Ramirez went 5-for-13 in that four-game series, with three home runs and six RBIs. He homered twice in the series finale, a 4-1 Cubs win.

"They booed me," Ramirez said of Pirates fans. "I don't know why. I didn't ask to be traded."

Likewise, Ramirez said, he did not ask to leave Chicago after batting .294 with 239 home runs and 806 RBIs in 1,124 games. He was a free agent, and the Cubs' new president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, informed agent Paul Kinzer early in the process that Ramirez did not fit the franchise's plan.

"Theo was honest," Ramirez said. "He told my agent they were going young, so there was no place for me there. I'm 33."

If Cubs fans do boo him this week, Ramirez said, "I want to know the reason why. What did I do? But [Cubs] fans, they go to the park and they do whatever they want."

Manager Ron Roenicke was asked whether he worried about Ramirez trying to do too much in his return to Wrigley Field.

"I think sometimes it goes both ways," Roenicke said. "Sometimes a guy comes back and does great, and then there's the player who comes back and tries so hard to do well that he gets out of his game. It's hard to say which way Aramis will go. He's calm, he's always thinking, but there's still emotion under that calm. Going back to a place he was for that many years, there's going to be emotion there."

Ramirez still has a home in downtown Chicago, but it's for sale, so he will stay with the Brewers at the team hotel.