CHICAGO – Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has begun a minor league rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa as he works his way back from suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s policy on domestic violence.
Team president Theo Epstein met with the media in the Cubs' dugout Thursday at Wrigley Field and addressed Russell’s situation. Epstein’s key talking points:
• There is no “finish line” for Russell in completing his therapy.
• The team had made him no promises.
• Russell will play second base in addition to shortstop at Iowa, a key point considering how well Javy Baez has played short for the Cubs.
Russell, 25, is nearing the end of a 40-game suspension he accepted in September for conduct based on allegations of abuse by his former wife.
“My thoughts on Addison Russell are the same as they’ve been,” Epstein said. “We’re taking this day to day, which is appropriate. This is one situation where it is not appropriate to get ahead of the story because Addison has a lot of work to do going forward. There’s no finish line here. He’s been compliant. He’s put a lot of work in away from the field to try to grow as a person and improve his relationships.
“To this point, he has started to get results, which is really important for him and more importantly, the people in his life. Now that he’s begun his rehab assignment, there are baseball considerations that start to creep in even if it’s not as important as the work that he’s doing off the field.”
Russell is eligible to be activated May 3, but Epstein said it’s possible Russell could stay at Iowa longer on an option assignment.
“He’s going to be down there for seven days and then we’ll make a determination about what’s best for the organization,” Epstein said. “And nothing is promised whatsoever.
“I told him the other day, seven days does not necessarily get somebody ready for a season. If we all feel like he’s ready to come up here and contribute and help us win, then we’re going to do the right thing for the organization, period. But that’s getting ahead of the story because he’s not at the point where he’s successfully completed his minor-league assignment yet.”
Epstein went out of his way to make one other point.
“From the work that I’ve put in, I think that the people around him in his life have noticed a positive change, which is important,” he said. “He shouldn’t win any awards for that. He doesn’t deserve any plaudits, but I think that’s important, I think, with the decision that we made, we’re looking for a positive outcome. And having better relationships and more stability is something that’s really positive.”