Cubs

Addison Russell: 'I have nothing but respect for the fans'

Addison Russell: 'I have nothing but respect for the fans'

It took all of two days for the next wave of negative news to surround Addison Russell after his return to Chicago.

Russell — who's starting for the Cubs again Friday against the Brewers — was immediately inserted into the lineup Wednesday night in his first game back after his 40-game suspension for domestic abuse. Throughout that evening, fans voiced their displeasure with Russell, as he received boos each time his name was announced.

When asked about that fan reaction the next day by the Chicago Sun-Times' Steve Greenberg, Russell said:

“I’m a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs. I’m one of the dudes in this clubhouse. I’m one of the guys who goes out there and puts his [body] on the line. We do it because we love it. We want to win, and we want to bring another championship to Chicago. And if hometown fans want to boo someone that’s trying to help bring the team a World Series again, then that’s on them.”

Russell spoke again Friday morning and walked those comments back, saying he was not criticizing Cubs fans in the Sun-Times interview and does not have any issue with fans voicing their negative opinion:

"Everyone's entitled to doing what they want to do, thinking whatever they want to think, saying whatever they want to say," Russell said. "The reaction to me, I have to respect that. My actions are what they are and I have to be responsible for them. 

"I have nothing but respect for the fans. It's a goal to get the respect of the Cubs fans back. So having said that, it's just out of respect for them. I have nothing but respect for them. I just wish that it could be on different terms, you know? Just continuing to get better and know that it's not always gonna be good."

Russell also said he understands everything he says publicly through the media will be heavily scrutinized, as it should be. Just because Russell is back in the big leagues does not mean he has passed all the tests or reached some ultimate level of redemption, and Theo Epstein stressed earlier this week this is still a conditional second chance.

As long as Russell is in the big leagues, he will be asked constantly about the entire situation by Chicago media, national media and visiting media. He will hear negative comments from Cubs fans and opposing fans. He will be met with reactions at Wrigley Field and on the road and away from the ballpark. 

There's no escaping this now, though Russell insists when he's on the field, he blocks out all the negative noise. 

"I know what I said [Thursday], but I haven't read into the negative comments," Russell said. "When I like to speak, it's coming from the heart. What I want to say is I respect the fans for whatever they think. They're definitely entitled to that. 

"It's just the way that I have to be out on the field — it's a completely different thought process of what the fan thinks. I have to deliver. I have to focus. The fans may not like it, but I have to do what I have to do."

Russell may not have seen or read the negative reaction to his Thursday quotes, but does he understand how people are emotional about his return to the field?

"Totally understand. I totally understand," he said. "It's a serious issue. What can I do? Get better day by day. That's all I can do. And be the example of a person that's trying to make things right."

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Anthony Rizzo joins Cubs All-Decade Team behind efforts on and off field

Anthony Rizzo joins Cubs All-Decade Team behind efforts on and off field

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

You saw this one coming, right?

As the Cubs’ longest tenure player, Anthony Rizzo was a shoo-in for this group. He hasn’t relinquished his starting first baseman job since making his Cubs debut in June 2012. The guy’s longevity alone is impressive.

But besides that, Rizzo has been a model of consistency during his time on the North Side. Since 2012, he’s hit 217 home runs (averaging 27 per season) and hit 32 three times from 2014-17. The lone exception? 2015, when he hit 31. So close…

As a Cub, Rizzo is a .277/.376/.496 hitter with a 132 OPS+. He produces at a high clip each season, whether he’s hitting third, cleanup or leadoff, all while simultaneously playing stellar defense. The 30-year-old is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2016, 2018-19).

Rizzo is the guy who comes up huge in key moments but will be there to address the media after tough losses. He’s the de facto captain of the Cubs, the guy who suffered a nasty ankle sprain in September that could have ended his regular season. Instead, he returned four days later for a key series against the rival Cardinals, as the Cubs were fighting to keep their October dreams alive.

When he’s not leading his team on the field, Rizzo is giving back to the community off of it. He’s one of the most charitable athletes in the world and recently raised $1.3 million for children’s cancer research at his “8th annual Walk-off for Cancer” in his home state of Florida.

Rizzo was the first building block of the Cubs core which snapped their infamous 108-year championship drought, but he’ll be remembered for more than that. He’s a leader on and off the field, the clear choice for starting first baseman on our Cubs All-Decade Team.

Also considered: Derrek Lee, Bryan LaHair

Nationals 'love' Kris Bryant but price tag could stymie trade talks

Nationals 'love' Kris Bryant but price tag could stymie trade talks

With Anthony Rendon officially joining the Angels, the Nationals have a vacancy at third base.

Washington has options to replace Rendon; Josh Donaldson is still available in free agency, and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant could potentially be had via trade.

The Nationals have reportedly inquired with the Cubs about Bryant, and while they “love” the 27-year-old, their focus is on Donaldson, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The Cubs would likely seek center fielder Victor Robles in a deal, a holdup on Washington's end, Heyman said.

From the Cubs perspective, it would make all the sense in the world to ask for Robles. He’s 22 years old, plays excellent defense (22 DRS in 2019, No. 1 in MLB by center fielders) and is only scratching the surface as a big-leaguer. Robles is projected to be a star, but Bryant already is one. If the Nationals want Bryant badly enough, they’ll have to sacrifice talent in a deal.

On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why Washington would be unwilling to trade Robles, who's under team control through 2024. Bryant will hit free agency after 2021, but if he wins his ongoing grievance case, he'll hit the open market after next season.

Nonetheless, if the Nationals do engage in Bryant trade talks, you can bet the Cubs will at least ask for Robles in return. A trade could be worked out without him, but for a Cubs team searching for better center field production, you've got to wonder who could be more enticing than Robles.

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