Cubs shortstop Addison Russell

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Bernstein: Disturbing Day For Cubs

Addison Russell has been placed on administrative leave amid domestic violence allegations.

Dan Bernstein
September 21, 2018 - 2:37 pm
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(670 The Score) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he read Melisa Reidy-Russell's blog post just as he was going to bed Thursday night, and I can't imagine he actually slept for a minute after that.

The ex-wife of Cubs shortstop Addison Russell detailed a harrowing period of abuse that included at least two instances of domestic violence among systematic psychological and emotional mistreatment by Russell. As the story exploded Friday morning, the team and Major League Baseball determined quickly that the prudent call was to place Russell on temporary administrative leave pursuant to the collectively bargained domestic violence policy forged by the league office and the players' association.

After the team scrambled to call Russell in to inform him and finalized plans to talk to the team and media at Guaranteed Rate Field, the ultimate outcome seemed to give the Cubs a bit of a break or at least buy them time. MLB is fully in charge of continuing its investigation for now, meaning the Cubs can't gather further information or make any decision on Russell's future themselves until the conclusion of that process.

Regardless of the outcome of the probe, "serious consideration" is being given to Russell's future with the Cubs, sources told 670 The Score, a completely understandable response to what has now become an ongoing issue of off-field behavior that has concerned the team. It becomes reasonable to ask what the team knew about any perceived or actual threat to Reidy-Russell at any time and what steps might have been taken to protect and support her as the marriage deteriorated and her mistreatment accelerated.

Epstein did his best to defer to the league's jurisdiction in his comments to reporters, but there were some notable aspects to his press conference alongside owner Tom Ricketts. It was as troubled as the usually unflappable Epstein has appeared publicly, for one, with more self-editing of his words than usual as he navigated difficult rhetorical territory. He undid the word "encouraged" when he answered a question about the Cubs' role in cooperating with the MLB investigation, not wanting to make it seem as if they actively invited the examination of Russell. Later, he similarly retracted the term "balanced" regarding whom to believe, so as not to appear dismissive of the accuser's veracity. He rarely shows us the wires like this.

Another telling response came when he was given the opportunity to vouch for Russell's character, and replied only with "I would say that I know him in a baseball context." That left a great deal of space for obvious reasons and did so in dramatic fashion.

But he fared far better than manager Joe Maddon, who gave lip-service to the disciplinary process but claimed to have not read Reidy-Russell's description of events that's the reason for all of this. Yet multiple times he said that he wanted to "hear everything before I draw a conclusion" and wanted all available information to evaluate both sides. It would seem that the actual post by the woman who says she was victimized would be the single most important source of information available to him, but he seems to disagree for some reason, content to snap back to the reporter asking him if he thought he should read it with a flippant "Should I?"

Yes, Joe. You should.

It was a rough turn for Maddon on a rough day for the Cubs, as a team that has enjoyed its fair share of party time was forced into difficult conversations about something disturbing and deeply serious.

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