4/8 Ramirez, Braun headed to Wrigley

Monday will be an interesting night for the middle of the Brewers order. Ryan Braun will be playing his first regular season away game since 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 told reporters Sunday in Milwaukee. “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.”

How will Cubs fans greet Ramirez?

“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he 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.”

Ramirez had a similar experience in September 2003 when he 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 that 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.”

Brewers 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.

— Carrie Muskat

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