Bernstein: Maddon At End Of Rope With Russell

In a departure from the norm, Joe Maddon publicly criticized Addison Russell.

Dan Bernstein
July 23, 2019 - 3:03 pm
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(670 The Score) It's rare for Cubs manager Joe Maddon to use the media to criticize a player. He much prefers to handle any discipline, scolding or expression of disappointment internally, protecting public reputations.

So it means something that amid the ongoing struggles of Addison Russell, Maddon chose to open up almost exasperatedly Tuesday when asked about his flighty second baseman. Russell admitted that some of his recent baserunning gaffes have been due to not knowing the signs, and the defensive miscues have been obvious to all. 

Maddon sounds like he's about had it with him.

"Honestly, it's really in the player's hands at this point," Maddon said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 The Score. "He's been here for several years, and I assure you the conversations have been there constantly. We've worked through this in the past and at some point it's up to the players to make this adjustment too. Again, staff-wise, I know, I was there. The conversations between he and I and also infield coaches and baserunning coaches, we've had these conversations. We just need to get Addy to, it's more of a how do you go through the permutations mentally before the play occurs? How do you visualize in advance? That's what I'm really, really after is to get him to the point where he sees things before they occur, which would equal focus. That's where we're at."

And "constantly" was even said with a mordant laugh, driving home the point. This is a manager throwing his hands up and asking, "Whaddaya want me to do at this point?"

Maddon can't be the only one frustrated with a lack of focus, as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was the one primarily responsible for keeping Russell with the team instead of cutting him loose following his suspension for domestic abuse. Epstein was thinking more of providing the best possible support system and growth structure to benefit the victim and children involved than he was about baseball, but he still provided the vast professional resources for Russell to rehabilitate himself. One would think that an improved level of responsibility and mindfulness toward Russell's job might come with this process just as a by-product of a larger and more mature self awareness, but not with this guy.

No such thing is happening now, and Russell is being called out for not concentrating.

"Some guys just have a hard time with that (baserunning)," Maddon said. "The conversation has to continue, but in a lot of these situations -- and sometimes it's not necessarily reported in this way -- but the player has to be responsible for his own actions too."

Russell has also been benched and will be out of the starting lineup for the third straight game Tuesday. 

"In situations where they're struggling like this, I like to give them a couple, three days off so they can think it through all the way, slow things down a bit, maybe come back and regroup," Maddon said​.

This entire offseason and season was an opportunity provided generously by the Cubs for Russell to come back and regroup, and he doesn't seem like he cares. His manager is clearly telling us he's tried all he could to this point to get through to Russell and is now putting the onus back where it's deserved.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.