Addison Russell's on-field professional struggles might be partially explained by his off-the-field personal issues, with his wife using social media on Wednesday night to accuse the Cubs shortstop of cheating and the Chicago Sun-Times reporting Thursday morning that Major League Baseball plans to investigate him under its domestic-violence protocol.
Russell’s wife, Melisa, has since deleted the posts on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, but it caught MLB’s attention and the screen grabs can still be found across the Internet. The most potentially explosive element would be the abuse allegations leveled with an Instagram comment from a woman believed to be one of Melisa’s good friends.
Russell, 23, is coming off an All-Star season where he helped the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908. But Russell hasn’t played at that high level or with the same sharpness this year, hitting .209 with a .626 OPS and recently falling into a timeshare at shortstop with Javier Baez.
Russell didn’t play in Wednesday night’s loss to the Miami Marlins and wasn’t at his locker postgame when the Wrigley Field clubhouse opened up for the media. Russell’s high-powered agent, Scott Boras, and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn’t immediately respond to text messages.
Commissioner Rob Manfred is granted broader power in these situations under the collective bargaining agreement. Manfred suspended Aroldis Chapman for 30 games before the beginning of last season, even though the Broward County State Attorney’s Office ultimately decided to not file criminal charges after an incident at the closer’s South Florida home.
That didn’t stop the Cubs from making a blockbuster trade with the New York Yankees last summer and adding Chapman and his 100-mph fastball as a bullpen rental. Russell – a player the Cubs built around for the long term – also deserves the chance to tell his side of the story before Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.
Already this week, MLB has signaled investigators will dig into allegations that Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris “physically and emotionally abused” his ex-fiancée, Kristen Eck, who made those claims on her Instagram account and personal blog.
Norris released a statement through his agent to the Tampa Bay Times that said: “I have NEVER been physically or emotionally abusive towards her, or anyone else in my life.”