Addison Russell

What Joe Maddon thought about Addison Russell's press conference

What Joe Maddon thought about Addison Russell's press conference

MESA, Ariz. — Addison Russell sat on an island, the only person at the table in the Cubs spring training media room.

As it should be.

This was a major test for Russell and a huge step that needed to be taken in the course of his conditional second chance with the team.

As Russell spoke, a group of Cubs brass filtered in behind the media to watch the press conference, including Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon.

The Cubs manager had a day to digest the ordeal and explained his thoughts Saturday afternoon:

"I was really impressed and proud of what he did and how he did it," Maddon said. "Not easy for him to do. I thought he held up really well. I talked to him afterwards, I talked to him again today. Gave him a big ole hug because I know that's probably the most difficult thing he's ever done publicly — or ever done period.

"So I give him a lot of credit for that. I thought his answers really addressed the situation well. I also believe a moment like that could be a tremendous growth moment for a human being in general. Again, we're talking about a second chance, making his life better, making him a better person.

"When you go through something like that, how would we all like to sit down under those circumstances and have to answer those kinds of questions? So hopefully there's a tremendous growth moment for him."

Many watched Russell's press conference and had a different take on it than Maddon. There are undoubtedly people out there who don't care to hear how difficult of a moment it was for Russell.

But what else was Maddon supposed to say? He is a part of the group of Cubs decision-makers that ultimately chose to give Russell a second chance and be there to support him along the way. 

Between the Russell situation and Joe Ricketts' racist emails, much of the conversation with Maddon so far this spring has been about off-field issues. 

He understands that comes with the territory as the front-facing figure in the organization, but he is also longing for the time where he can stick to sports.

"Of course," Maddon said. "We are here to play baseball. I know we're part of the social fabric of this country and people watch us all the time and we're very popular as baseball players. But I would like to prefer to getting back to just talking about baseball.

"That's what we're here for — we're here to entertain. We're a part of the entertainment industry, I think. I know people like to take that respite away from the rest of the world and just get absorbed into those 3-3.5 hours [of a game]. It's our job to make sure we're playing well enough to make that an enjoyable 3-3.5 hours and that's what we're here for. 

"I understand people doing their jobs, I understand that interest and the reason behind asking very difficult questions, but after all, we need to get back to becoming the baseball team that we are."

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Reaction to Addison Russell's comments

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AP

Cubs Talk Podcast: Reaction to Addison Russell's comments

Our Cubs beat reporters Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki provide their unique perspectives after being in the room for Addison Russell's first public comments since his suspension (1:00). They also discuss:

-Russell's disposition during his media session (4:00)

-The lack of specifics in Russell's answers (12:30)

-What the future holds for both Russell and the team (19:15) and much more regarding the Cubs' suspended shortstop

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Addison Russell speaks

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Addison Russell speaks

For the first time since being suspended 40 games in September for violating MLB's domestic violence policy, Addison Russell met the media in Arizona. We bring you his entire press conference (1:00), as well as comments from Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein about Russell's situation and how it has changed the entire organization (20:00).

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.