Cubs

Cubs: Addison Russell knows he won't figure it all out overnight

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Cubs: Addison Russell knows he won't figure it all out overnight

Addison Russell isn't expecting to be playing at an All-Star level already.

The Cubs' "other" top prospect is still only 21 years old and knows his game is a work in progress as he embarks on his second week in the big leagues, including his first series at Wrigley Field.

Russell is hitting just .136 through his first five games, striking out 12 times in 22 at-bats without drawing a walk.

[RELATED - Cubs see things starting to come together after sweep of Reds]

But he came through with arguably the biggest hit of the weekend in Cincinnati. Russell lined a bases-loaded, two-out double to right-center in the fourth inning Sunday, driving in three and lifting the Cubs to a 5-2 victory and a two-game sweep of the Reds.

"It's just a stepping stone, I believe," Russell said. "I just need to capitalize on that and bring it into next game and we'll see where we go from there."

Russell struck out six times over the weekend and that double was the only hit he had. He mentioned he was having trouble with the backdoor sinker and the way big-leaguers are pitching him.

"These are adjustments that I'm going to have to make day-to-day as I get more familiar with the pitchers," Russell said. "I haven't faced big-league pitching before, obviously, but it's just something I have to watch film of and take notes on."

Manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs like the way Russell has contributed even when he hasn't been hitting - namely playing great defense at second base, a position he just moved to only a few games before his call-up after spending his whole career as a shortstop.

Russell made a fantastic diving play in Friday's game, robbing Billy Hamilton of a hit and potentially saving a run as Hamilton wreaked havoc on the basepaths all weekend long. That play impressed Maddon, who feels Russell will only keep coming on offensively as he gets more at-bats under his belt.

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Maddon also made sure to remind everybody that Russell is still just 21 years old.

"He's fine," Maddon said. "How about the way he's playing defense? People focus on hits. It's not just about hits, folks. If you're gonna play that game, you're gonna lose a lot.

"You gotta catch it. He's a very good baserunner. There's all kinds of things he can do to help us win a game and he's doing it."

Russell's big hit Sunday made an impression on veteran starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, who got the win thanks to Russell's clutch stroke.

"Russell came up big for us," Arrieta said. "Those are things he's going to be able to do more often the more he gets comfortable here. You watch his at-bats, he's had some at-bats where he looks a little uncertain.

"But at the same time, the next time he comes up, he's putting some great swings on the ball. Those are things we expect. Some bumps and bruises along the way, but at the same time, quality at-bats. And that's exactly what he's been able to do."

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Russell said he's feeling the expected excitement in advance of his first series at home in a baseball cathedral undergoing restoration. He said he can't wait for the atmosphere around Wrigley Field, but knows he still has to keep his head on the ground and try to avoid getting caught up in the moment.

"I'm just understanding this whole process," Russell said. "It's not gonna be made overnight. It may take a few games or a few at-bats. I'm just trying to stay patient and stay with my approach and just believe in my talent."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: The state of the Sox and Darvish duels Kap

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: The state of the Sox and Darvish duels Kap

Leila Rahimi, Scott Podsednik, and Doug Glanville cover everything Chicago baseball in a jam-packed show. First, Jason Benetti joins the show to reminisce about his broadcast with Bill Walton, Lucas Giolito's dominance and Eloy Jimenez's hip issue. Then, the trio discusses Yoan Moncada's return, the Cubs building momentum after a sweep of the Giants, Yu Darvish's back-and-forth with David Kaplan, and where the White Sox rebuild stands entering the final 6 weeks of 2019.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Do the Cubs have an 'ace' in their rotation?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Do the Cubs have an 'ace' in their rotation?

David Haugh, Patrick Finley and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - A night after winning a 12-11 slugfest, Kyle Hendricks and 3 relievers combine for a 1-0 shutout as the winning streak goes to 5.

4:00 - Kap recounts his Twitter discussion with Yu Darvish after Wednesday night's game.

10:00 - Right now, who's the Cubs ace? The guys debate.

11:30 - Luis Robert is killing it in Charlotte. Will he be a September callup?

16:00 - Matt Nagy defends the Bears' kicker search after a critical Sports Illustrated article.

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