Cubs shortstop Addison Russell

Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports

Russell Accepts Accountability For Suspension

"I believe that I will become a better person," Russell said.

February 15, 2019 - 2:31 pm
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(670 The Score) Making his first public comments since being suspended last October, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell on Friday said he's accountable for his past actions and through counseling has a better understanding of domestic violence. 

Russell was issued a 40-game suspension last fall for violating the league's joint domestic violence policy. That came after allegations were made against Russell by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, in a blog post last September. 

"I've had time to reflect," Russell said, speaking at the Cubs' spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona. "Through counseling, I have a better understanding what domestic abuse really is. I'm committed into my (counseling and therapy) work right now. That's my main focus. Already, I see the benefits that come within that with my family and my children.

"I am accountable for my past actions. I'm not proud of the person I was. But I do want to own this issue and take responsibility for the hurt and the pain that I caused Melisa. For that, I am sorry."

"I want to own my actions. I want to be accountable for the hurt that I put Melisa through and the pain that she went through. That's what I want to own.

"I'm doing everything in my power to become a better person, father, teammate and provider. Through this process, I believe that I've already shown great improvements just coming home. My family, my kids, we are creating a happy, healthy, lovable household.

"Going through with this process, which I'm fully committed to, I believe that I will become a better person."

Russell was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 21, the day after Reidy's blog post alleged physical, emotional and psychological abuse. Russell was issued and accepted the 40-game suspension by MLB on Oct. 3, choosing not to appeal. 

On Nov. 30, the Cubs elected to tender Russell a contract for 2019, which team president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said was conditional in that Russell needed to "make progress and demonstrate his commitment to these important issues."

The 25-year-old Russell said he's currently in a committed relationship with another woman and working with Reidy to provide a positive system for their son, who was born in 2015. 

"Just to have the support of the organization for myself, my family and Melisa speaks to this organization," Russell said. "I myself am happy to be here and my family thanks this organization for having me here and giving me a second chance.

"I realized the severity of this issue. I want to address this issue. I want to be accountable for my past behaviors and tell everyone that I am committed to becoming a better person."

Russell and Reidy filed for divorce in late June 2017, a process that was finalized a year later. Reidy had waited until after the divorce proceedings were closed before releasing her blog post.

An All-Star starter in 2016, Russell is a career .242 hitter through 533 games and four seasons with the Cubs. He's due to miss 29 games to open the 2019 season as a continuation of that 40-game suspension, which was retroactive to Sept. 21.

Russell remains in a counseling program. The Cubs have closely monitored his therapy, Epstein said in referring to this as "the second inning" of the process. The Cubs organization has also mandated that all employees to undergo "enhanced" domestic violence training, Epstein said earlier this week.

"I understand that there are Cubs fans that don't understand this process that I'm going through," Russell said. "I'm sorry for letting the Cubs fans down, along with the organization. What I want to say to them is I am committed in my work to becoming a better person and be a better person at the end of this."