CHICAGO – Shortstop Addison Russell was glad to be back at Wrigley Field Friday, one day after the Cubs asked him to stay away.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I didn’t show up yesterday. I was watching the game on TV. Felt sad, man. This is what I do. This is what I love. I love being here in this clubhouse with the boys, having fun. This is my home.”
Major League Baseball is “looking into” a situation in which Russell was accused of domestic abuse on social media by someone claiming to be a friend of his wife. Russell’s wife, Melisa, made a prior post indicating the couple will split up.
Russell asked reporters not to ask him personal questions. On Thursday, he issued a statement calling the allegations “false and hurtful.”
It has been a poor start to the season for Russell at the plate, and he was asked whether off-the-field problems have affected his play.
“No, there are periods of times where you’re struggling, you’re scuffling,” he said. “Sometimes you stink. I know being young in the major leagues is going to come with a lot of adversity. I’m here for a reason. It’s because I’m good.”
Manager Joe Maddon did not play Russell in Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies but did say he would evaluate the situation daily and that it’s possible Russell could start over the weekend.
“Check him out today and talk to him specifically,” Maddon said. “I just talked to (hitting coach) Johnny Mallee, and he said he looked really good in the batting cage. I talked to [Russell] a little bit last night. He sounded like he was in a good place. So we wanted to continue that. I heard he met with you guys. I heard he handled himself extremely well. We’ll just treat him normally and get him back on the field.”
As it was, Russell already had lost his full-time starting job. He had been sharing time at shortstop with Javy Baez.
“I’m handling it well,” he said. “Obviously, you have to do what’s best for the team. In the long run, Joe also has given me a mental break as well. He knows that I’m not swinging as great as I normally do. He’s given me that time to work on my swing.
“I’m here to stay. This is my job. This is what I love doing.”
There has been no word about how long MLB will take in its investigation. Russell could face a suspension if MLB finds wrongdoing.
In the meantime, Russell said he is happy to have the support of the Cubs.
“I think every day brings a new learning curve,” he said. “You tackle those adversities day by day. If you overcome those, it’s only going to make you a better player, a better person, at the end of the day.
“They’ve been there for me every step of the way. They’ve given me the chance to sort out the things I need to sort out and all the things I need as far as stabilization. They’ve handled it great.”