Cubs Aim To Keep Focus Amid Russell Distraction

Addison Russell is on administrative leave following domestic violence accusations.

Bruce Levine
September 21, 2018 - 4:12 pm
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Shortstop Addison Russell being placed on administrative leave by MLB on Friday following allegations of physical and emotional abuse from his ex-wife is a distraction for the Cubs that they'll try to minimize when asked to do their job each day.

The Cubs held a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central entering play Friday in a season that's been marked by countless injuries and plenty of underachievement by some key players. Their focus is on finishing the job of winning the division with 10 regular-season games remaining.

"We heard these things last year," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said in reference to abuse allegations first surfacing against Russell in June 2017. "This a part of life. It's the life cycle that happens. I don't know much about it."

Before the Cubs played the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday afternoon, owner Tom Ricketts, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer addressed the team about Russell's situation. The Cubs are trying to strike a tone of resiliency in their approach to baseball. 

Epstein is confident his players will keep their concentration going.

"The timing is not great," Epstein said said. "Any time there is allegations of this nature, they must be taken seriously. Timing or inconvenience do not play into it. We want a just and fair resolution. If that includes discipline, so be it. We were there for the players to answer questions and to remind them to keep their focus on baseball. The players understand they will be asked about the situation."

Cubs admit they don't truly know Addison Russell

The Cubs have many well-respected veterans on their roster. Rizzo is the longest-tenured Cub who many look to, and teammates like Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Pedro Strop are valued for their personalities and ability to lead by example.

"We are a good team," Rizzo said of players being able to move on from bad moments. "When you look at championship teams, there is nothing perfect. Everyone has to deal with bumps and bruises along the road. Part of any championship makeup is dealing with the fact everything is not going to be always peachy."

Bernstein: Disturbing day for Cubs

Maddon runs the show, but he depends on his team leaders to keep the clubhouse in order and focused.

"We had a meeting inside and Mr. Ricketts and Theo explained everything to the guys," Maddon said.

"We are all aware, so now you let the process play out. We are now short a player, but we will be fine. We have gotten through difficult baseball moments before. It is just another day at the ballpark regarding difficulties we may have had. We have been together a bit, so the interaction is solid. When you are together for a while, difficulties are going to occur. As you build those relationships, the conversation becomes easier. Even the more difficult conversations become easier. That is a good thing. A tough day talking about those things, but I am confident we will go out and play the kind of baseball we are capable of."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.