Cubs shortstop Addison Russell

Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports

Cubs' Addison Russell Placed On Administrative Leave

Russell was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife.

September 21, 2018 - 12:43 pm
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(670 The Score) Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball in light of domestic violence allegations against him by his ex-wife.

"We take allegations of domestic violence seriously and support the league’s decision to place Addison Russell on administrative leave given new details revealed today," the Cubs said Friday in a statement. "We will continue to cooperate with the league’s investigation so the appropriate action can be taken."

Melisa Reidy-Russell, whom Russell married in 2016 and split from last year, accused him of physical, emotional and verbal abuse in a recent blog post. MLB opened an investigation into Russell after a friend of Reidy-Russell's accused him on social media in June 2017 of physical abuse. That investigation has never been closed, and Russell hasn't been disciplined to date.

"Major League Baseball takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously," the league said in a statement. "When the allegations became public on June 7, 2017, the Commissioner's Office's Department of Investigations immediately commenced an investigation. Melisa Russell declined to participate in the investigation at that time. Our investigation of this matter has remained open and we have continued our efforts to gather information.

"With the new details revealed in today's blog post by Ms. Russell, Mr. Russell has been placed on administrative leave in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA domestic violence policy. We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible."

Administrative leave typically lasts for seven days as an investigation takes place and the league decides appropriate discipline, though that time frame can be extended. Under the MLB-MLBPA joint domestic violence policy, players don't have to have legal action taken against them to be suspended. As part of the policy, the league conducts the investigation, taking the matter out of the hands of teams. 

At an early afternoon press conference in which he sat side-by-side owner Tom Ricketts, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called it "not appropriate" to speculate on Russell's future with the team. He added he was made aware of the blog post late Thursday night and immediately contacted the investigative branch of the league office to verify that Reidy-Russell was indeed the author of the accusations. The league then held its own meetings after doing so and was in contact with the Cubs throughout Friday morning.

Asked about Russell's character, Epstein responded, "I would say that I know him in a baseball context."

"One thing that we've learned as a society as we collectively try to wrestle with balancing or trying to deal with how to appropriately handle accusations like this is that it's important to step back and realize that if you know someone in one context that you don't necessarily know them fully," Epstein said.

Russell met with Epstein and Cubs officials as well Friday morning, when they informed him that he'd be on administrative leave. In that meeting, Russell denied that he physically abused his ex-wife, Epstein said.

Epstein emphasized the need to let the league's investigation play out.

"The process has an intermediate step built into it to handle it -- that's where we are with administrative leave," Epstein said. "Again, that balancing act that comes with an accusation validating the rights of the accuser and providing an appropriate forum is something that's really difficult. We don't have the answer for, except that we know it's appropriate to take it as seriously as we possibly can and to follow the process because the process is designed to defend everyone's rights and to lead to a fair and just outcome. And that's what we're supportive of."

When the initial accusations surfaced in June 2017, Russell vehemently denied allegations of physical abuse. Those came to light after Reidy-Russell publicly revealed that Russell had cheated on her. In an ensuing comment, one of her friends accused Russell of physical abuse as well.

"Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful," Russell said then.

Reidy-Russell has a different account. She accused Russell of physical, emotional and verbal abuse in their relationship, including in front of their young son who's now 3.

"The first time I was physically mistreated by my spouse, I was in shock," she wrote. "I couldn’t wrap my head around what just happened…Why did he get so angry? What did I do for him to want to put his hands on me? Of course I forgave him & assumed it would never happen again. I just thought he had let his emotions get the best of him, he loves me and he’s sorry. I was deeply hurt that he could even be capable of this behavior towards me, I couldn’t understand how the man I was so in love with, the FATHER of my child, the man I married just a few months ago could show such aggression towards me… I simply could not wrap my head around it, it tore me apart. As much as I tried to pretend it never happened, I noticed myself avoiding making him angry in anyway in fear of it happening again. I saw a darkness in him I’ve never seen or experienced in him or anyone else. Slowly but surely I realized the man I grew to love so much was becoming more and more of a stranger to me everyday that went by."

Reidy-Russell wrote that she had night terrors and panic attacks as many as three times a week even after their separation. She went on to explain that she made these details public so as to help empower and inspire other women to stand up for themselves.

"After what I’ve experienced, I’m not easily intimidated anymore," she wrote. "I’m giving myself a voice."

The 24-year-old Russell is hitting .250 with five homers and 38 RBIs in 130 games this season. He's struggled mightily lately, hitting .158 with a .377 OPS in September.