Happ: Russell Still Needs To Take Proper Steps

Addison Russell is serving a suspension for violating the joint domestic abuse policy.

Bernstein & McKnight Show
January 16, 2019 - 12:03 pm
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

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(670 The Score) The Cubs are set to begin the 2019 regular season without shortstop Addison Russell, who will continue serving his 40-game suspension for violating MLB's joint domestic abuse policy.

Russell was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, including in a detailed blog post last September. He was then placed on administrative leave before accepting his suspension. MLB issued its suspension of Russell in early October, a punishment retroactive to Sept. 21.

The Cubs tendered Russell a contract on Nov. 30, though under the condition he "continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues," as team president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement. Last Friday, Russell avoided arbitration by reaching a one-year, $3.4-million deal with the Cubs for 2019.

A close-knit group of Cubs players are still wondering whether they will call Russell a teammate in 2019 and how to handle his potential return. Outfielder Ian Happ spoke of that possibility on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on Wednesday.

"Addison's got a lot of personal stuff to work on before he's back with us," Happ said. "I think that we're all very aware of that. We're all going to be there to support him if he's taking the proper steps. And that's our job as teammates, to welcome him back if, in fact, he does everything he needs to be back on the field with us."

Russell was first alleged of domestic abuse by a third party in June 2017, after which MLB launched its initial investigation. He was never suspended until this past October after the detailed blog post from his ex-wife surfaced.

Speaking during an appearance at the Union League Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday evening, Cubs manager Joe Maddon weighed in on Russell's situation and whether he has made progress.

"It’s just a matter of being honest and transparent about it," Maddon said, according to the Tribune. "We understand what happened. Moving it forward, he understands and he’s taking culpability, responsibility for it. So now it’s about ... having this young man realize the fullness of his potential as a human being first. And then as a shortstop second. And that’s where we’re at. He’s got my support doing that."

The Cubs hold their annual fan convention this weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, an event set to feature current and former players. Russell won't be in attendance.