Addison Russell denies abuse allegation but Cubs will keep their All-Star shortstop out of uniform for now

Addison Russell denies abuse allegation but Cubs will keep their All-Star shortstop out of uniform for now

Caught in the middle of a social-media storm and Major League Baseball’s stronger policy on domestic violence, Cubs All-Star shortstop Addison Russell released a statement Thursday that denied an abuse accusation leveled in an Instagram comment.

“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said. “For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment.”

The Cubs didn’t suspend Russell, telling him to stay away from Wrigley Field and handle his personal business, keeping him out of uniform for that night’s game against the Colorado Rockies. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said his understanding is the police are not involved “at this time” in the Russell matter: “But I would not necessarily know.”

Epstein also couldn’t say when Russell might return to the lineup. A source close to Russell said technically “there is no investigation to speak of now,” framing it as a fact-finding stage under a collective bargaining agreement that gives commissioner Rob Manfred broader powers to impose discipline in these cases.

Epstein became aware that Russell’s estranged wife, Melisa, spilled details about their marriage Wednesday night, calling him out as a cheater on Instagram. The rumblings about Russell’s off-the-field issues burst to the surface when a woman believed to be one of Melisa’s close friends made the third-party accusation with a comment on the post.

Epstein met with Russell and manager Joe Maddon after a loss to the Miami Marlins and alerted MLB on Thursday morning. That image and the unidentified woman’s Instagram account were deleted after it caught fire on the Internet. 

“It’s honestly at such an early stage,” Epstein said, “that I don’t think it would be appropriate to do anything other than say we’re going to let it develop and then act as appropriately as we can. We care about all the parties involved and hope for the best.

“But making any judgment, I think, would be inappropriate at this very early stage.”

Epstein said the organization is limited in terms of conducting its own internal probe and will leave it up to Manfred’s office, which got its first test case before the beginning of last season, suspending New York Yankees closer/future Cub Aroldis Chapman for 30 games without South Florida prosecutors filing criminal charges after a domestic dispute.   

“It’s exclusively the territory of Major League Baseball,” Epstein said. “We did, of course, meet with Addison and reach out to his wife as well. But per the policy, it has to stop there and any investigative action is exclusively the territory of MLB.” 

Russell is 23 years old and exceptionally quiet in the clubhouse. He clearly hasn’t been performing up to the level that made him a 21-homer, 95-RBI force and a Gold Glove finalist last season, now hitting .209, lacking the same strong defensive presence and dealing with this cloud over his name.

“I would say the Addison Russell that we know is somebody that is a young kid who’s doing his best to be a really good citizen and a really good player,” Epstein said. “I think anything I say right now will be sort of viewed through the lens of this allegation – and it’s at such an early stage – that before I say any more I’d rather let this play out, out of fairness to Addison and fairness to the Cubs.”

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki


Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of the teams interested in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The 5-time All-Star will be holding a workout soon, with Chicago being one of the six teams reported to have a scout present at his workout.

Heyman did mention that while the Cubs aren’t necessarily the favorites right now, we will know how good of a chance they will have soon. Tulowitzki and his team are reported to be narrowing down their list to (at least) 6 teams.

Last season Tulowitzki played 66 games for the Blue Jays, batting .249 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. For his career he is a .290 hitter and is looking for a bounce-back season after dealing with complications from bone spur injuries in both heels over the years.

Toronto has to pay the $38 million left on Tulowitzki's contract, freeing up other teams to sign the veteran to a more reasonable deal. Since the Blue Jays went the route of cutting him, teams can offer Tulowitzki a league minimum salary.

For the Cubs, he represents-however small-a chance to extract great value from a veteran player, which would be a big bonus considering how the Yu Darvish signing backfired in year one.

Tulowitzki is likely to be searching for playing time on a legit title contender, so if he can provide any solid offensive production going forward, he and the Cubs could be a solid match.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap


Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

When nothing happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas. Luke, Kap and Tony talk about the Cubs lack of moves during the Winter Meetings.

In this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast with Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki:

00:10 - What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas and this year that means nothing. Luke, Kap & Tony talk Cubs lack of moves at Winter Meetings.

00:50 - Where the heck is all the money? This was supposed to be a wide-open window - we step on the accelerator.

01:25 - Cubs keep throwing money at the problem (Chatwood, Darvish) and it has become a cautionary tale.

02:50 - Are the Cubs playing at the shallow end of the kiddie pool?

03:50 - Tony talks about the volatility of the relief market.

05:15 - Where is the bullpen market? Brewers are making moves, but it's still "crickets" for the Cubs.

06:20 - Tony: Other than bullpen - Cubs have to address backup middle infielder most of all.

06:57 - Daniel Descalso rumors. Kap describes him as a grinder who fits the leadership mold.

07:47 - Luke is a little worried about Steve Cishek. He threw a career-high 70 innings last season.

09:34 - The guys talk about the possibility of a "second deadline" for the Winter Meetings to force clubs to make more moves.

11:06 - Luke: "I wanted to see Machado and Harper walking down the strip and making it rain!"

12:45 - Cubs still have so much to address. Some Cubs fans are starting to get a little itchy. Teams in the division are making moves. What about us?

14:45 - Question: Is Anthony Rizzo the third-best 1st baseman in the Central Division?

15:50 - Prediction time: What's biggest move the Cubs will make before opening day? Kap believes that Ian Happ will not be a Cub before the regular season starts.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast