Russell was very active when he was growing up. "When I was young, I didn’t sit around the house at all,” Addison said. “My dad made me go outside and play and do chores. I had to rake leaves and cut grass. I had to do all that stuff that kids my age were supposed to do.”
Addison had his eyes opened by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin when he was just a youth. Larkin, who played 19 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010, came to a baseball clinic in Russell's hometown of Pensacola, Florida. "I remember he signed every autograph," said Russell. "It made me think I could do this—play baseball as a career."
- In the summer of 2011, Addison started conditioning. It was between the USA trials and the 18-and-under team’s trip to Colombia for the Pan Am Championships. He started running more, doing yoga, and cycling classes and the weight began to disappear. He dropped almost 30 pounds.
“At the beginning of the summer, I weighed 220, 225 pounds,” Russell said. “When people moved me to third, that was the motivating factor. I wanted to be the best I could be and I wasn’t the best.”
- In 2012, Addison graduated from Pace High School in northwest Florida and committed to Auburn on a baseball scholarship.
- In 2012, the A's drafted Russell (see Transactions below).
In 2012, Baseball America rated Addison as the #1 prospect in the Arizona Rookie League.
In 2013 and 2014, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Russell as the #1 prospect in the Oakland A's organization. After being dealt to the Cubs, Addison was second-best in their system in the spring of 2015.
Before Addison gets into the batter's box, he makes a cross in the dirt with his bat.
Russell has very good makeup. And he is a focused individual who is driven to be successful. He is unfailingly polite and mature, both physically and mentally.
"You probably couldn’t ask for a better baseball character, as far as awareness for the game at a young age,” said Grady Fuson, the club’s former scouting director who currently serves as a special assistant. “His passion and energy, his quick twitch—he’s got all those things going, and he’s shown a very high aptitude level. You give him a little skill to work on: it’s in place.
“He loves coaching, he loves learning more about the game. When you break down the whole character package and what you see physically, you just can’t ask for any more.”
In 2013, Addison enjoyed his first Spring Training3, receiving a big league invitation as a non-roster player. Oakland general manager Billy Beane points out that this was earned, not a part of his contract.
Russell said he tried to listen and learn—watch the players in their daily routines and how they went about preparing. “Every single person has a routine they stick with. I just picked up on the little things, like what they did in the clubhouse whenever they had free time. Do they call their parents and tell them what they’re doing? I just tried to pick up on everything and put it in my routine and try it out.”
Russsell is humble and wants to learn.
Russell said his personality and drive can be traced to his family and the man he calls his dad and No. 1 role model, who raised Russell from the age of 18 months when he himself was just 19.
In July 2014, Addison was just as surprised by his trade to the Cubs as the A's fans were. "I was a little shocked," said Russell, "and more confused than anything."
"When I got to thinking about it and started talking to a few people, though, they were telling me it was a good thing. The Cubs wanted me, and they got me. I look at it as a new opportunity."
Russell blazed through the A's system, getting at-bats at the Triple-A level by the end of 2013. He missed most of the first half of the 2014 season with a hamstring injury, but it appeared he was taking off again upon his return.
"I was kind of flying through the farm system and playing well at each level and looked forward to playing with the A's for several more years," Russell said. "The trade just really surprised me. I wasn't expecting it. It definitely would've been cool to play at the big league level with the team that drafted me." (Lee - mlb.com - 3/13/2015)
Regarding his first start in the Major Leagues ... at second base ... for the Cubs on April 21, 2015, Russell said, "To be honest, it was just a natural feel. I wouldn't say it was like every game -- it definitely was new to me. I just wanted to get that first hit out of the way. I have to stay with my approach, and hopefully I'll produce."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows there will be bumps along the road for both Kris Bryant and Russell. "It is unusual to get guys that young to play with that swagger about them," Maddon said. "There's going to be that bad moment, don't get me wrong. As of right now, they're handling all of this extremely well. Being that they're so young, we need to stay with them, talk them through some tough moments. Right now, they're playing at a really high level."
After a game April 15 2015, Triple-A Iowa manager Marty Pevey told Russell he was going to start transitioning to second. They spent about 30 minutes talking about the different footwork and angles. "Pevey was like, 'Hey, man, you're probably going to have to stick at second and learn the position,' and I said, 'That's fine by me,'" Russell said. "In my head, I had that idea [that it could be a path to the Majors].
"I'm hungry," Russell said. "I wanted to learn more about that position." Cubs third-base coach Gary Jones, who works with the infielders, walked out to second base with Russell about four hours prior to the game to give Russell a feel for being in a big league ballpark and talk fundamentals.
"The footwork is probably the hardest part about it," Russell said. "Also the positioning—if you have a guy who likes to bunt or likes to steal. You have to try to maneuver which way you think will work out best for you." So far, so good. (Muskat - mlb.com - 4/21/2015)
Russell was a running back in high school in Pace, Florida, which is why, he says, the Cubs passed on him in earlier drafts. They thought he was out of shape. By the time he was 17, Russell says, he weighed 225 pounds.
A year later, as a senior and hearing rumors that his baseball draft status was diminishing, he was down to 195 pounds.
"They didn't know I put the weight on myself for football through weightlifting," Russell says. "But I became too bulky."
So he put himself on a diet of egg whites, greens, and lots of lean meat—pork chops and fish, especially—and Oakland picked him 11th overall in the 2012 draft. (Scott Miller/2015)
In 2015, Joe Maddon learned that Addison was a solid defender, a good kid, and the "shortstop of the future," but the Cubs manager wasn't prepared for the power. Russell didn't waste any time in Spring Training 2016 flexing his muscles.
"It's something I wanted to show in 2015, but the style I played, I was a little more timid coming into 2016," Russell said of his power. "It was harder for me to let it fly, especially making that move to second. It was a hard transition. At the end of 2015, I felt that grip-and-rip type feel, and that's the point I want to get at early on in the season."
When Russell was promoted to the big leagues April 21, 2015, he was inserted as the starting second baseman. Starlin Castro was the Opening Day 2015 shortstop, and the team had been rotating second basemen. On August 7, Russell was moved to short to stay.
There's another part of Russell's development that Maddon likes. "Conversationally, he's much more confident," Maddon said of Addison.
"He's easier to joke around with. He's just much more comfortable in his Major League skin. I love it. He knows he belongs here; he knows he's good here. He's in great shape. He was in fine shape last year, and I think he's in even better shape now." (Muskat - MLB.com - 3/28/2016)
When Addison was little, he would make cards or origami for his mother, Milany, on Mother's Day. In 2016, Russell will celebrate not only his mother but his wife, Melisa, who gave birth to their son, Aiden, last August. "To see their eyes twinkle whenever they look at each other and they look at you—I didn't think I could have anything so beautiful," Addison said of Melisa and Aiden.
Russell, one of the youngest players in the Major Leagues, said he and Melisa were both prepared for parenthood. The oldest of four children, Russell had to help his parents while growing up in Pensacola, Florida.
"With my mom and dad being so young, and having to go through a lot of struggles and overcoming a lot of struggles together, I think that's what has driven me to this point," he said. "They were just trying to live their lives, and not for themselves but for their kids. They were a loving family."
The Russells, both the parents and the kids, had to grow up fast. "My parents worked a lot and they were away from us, and we had to step up on our own a little bit and had to be a little street smart and raise ourselves," Addison said. "I helped raise my brother and sisters. I knew at a very young age that whenever I got on my feet, I would have children at a young age."
Melisa faced down the challenge of not only becoming a mother at a young age, but also being the wife of a big league ballplayer. "She had a lot of things to overcome herself, being brought into this lifestyle and being a mother and in this lifestyle are two different things," Addison said. "It's hard to get used to at first. She's here, we're married, and we're going to have each other's back."
Milany has helped the young couple. "My mom has always given some of the best advice that I can remember," Addison said. "She told me—and I'm pretty sure she told Melisa, too—that a marriage is this thing you take care of. You have to protect it and treat it with such care. You have to be able to grow it." (Muskat - MLB.com - 5/5/2016)
Addison met his wife, Melisa, through a mutual friend in Pensacola. Melisa was on break and they had lunch. Both Addison and Melisa are 50 percent Filipino and proud of their heritage.
"She made a great first impression on me, but we didn't meet again until the following year," Addison said. "Sparks just flew then."
In April 2016, Melisa participated with other Cubs wives in a 5K charity run that started and finished at Wrigley Field. It was her first race. "That's something that I've always admired about her is that she always tries," Addison said.
Now their focus is on their son, Aiden, who is very active and almost walking. "Aiden is starting to say 'Daddy' now," Addison said. "To watch him transform day by day is awesome."
Russell also has a daughter, Mila. (Muskat - MLB.com - 5/5/2016)
Addison has been Cubs manager Joe Maddon's Derek Jeter since he was installed as the everyday shortstop a little in 2015. And in 2016, he has shown there are also parts of Carlos Correa in his game. Maddon loves the way Russell continues to develop while playing a major role on a team with World Series aspirations. He says Russell's growth has been exactly what coaches look for in young players, calling him "the perfect example of everything's [gotten] better."
Russell arrived in Chicago as a second baseman because Maddon wasn't ready to take shortstop away from Starlin Castro. But then he made the decision to switch Russell to shortstop, his natural position, and it was a move that almost instantly helped turn the Cubs into the winningest team in baseball.
They were 58-48 when the Giants arrived for a series at Wrigley Field on August 6, 2015. They rolled to 97 wins and a trip to the NL Championship Series. They've gone 123-64 in regular-season games since the sure-handed Russell took over at short. FanGraphs credits him with 17 Defensive Runs Saved as of September 1, 2016 , giving him a share of the Major League lead at the position with the Giants' Brandon Crawford.
Maddon said he expected the atmosphere to be like "Game 7 of the World Series" in Pittsburgh for the 2015 NL Wild Card Game, and he wasn't disappointed. "We got to the field, and there was already a full stadium," Russell said this week. "Their fans were rowdy. They were into every pitch, which was awesome. It was exciting. It put us in some pretty challenging situations, which helped [our team] grow. We got the win, so it was a lot of fun."
Making the rounds before the game, hitting coach John Mallee noticed an unusual air around Russell. He seemed tense, not just anxious, as he looked toward the field from the dugout. Mallee offered Russell a quick word of encouragement and some advice: "Don't forget to breathe."
With the Cubs leading 4-0, the Pirates threatened against Jake Arrieta in the sixth inning. There were runners on first and second with one out when Andrew McCutchen lined a one-hop rocket at Russell (exit velocity: 107 mph). It would have been an easy double play, but the ball got away from Russell, loading the bases and adding to mounting concern on the Cubs' bench.
But when Starling Marte followed with an almost identical missile to short—this one clocked at 109 mph, according to Statcast—Russell gloved it and underhanded the ball to Castro to start an inning-ending double play. Once Russell was back in the dugout, Mallee asked him what he was thinking after misplaying McCutchen's hard grounder. He said his first thought was "breathe," and then he told himself that he wanted the next hitter, Marte, to hit the ball to him. It was the perfect response to a tough situation. (Rogers - MLB.com - 9/1/2016)
In 2016, Russell became the second youngest player behind Mickey Mantle (21 years old - 1953) to hit a grand slam in a World Series game.
Addison's dancing ability is another example of his innate talent. He has 80 grade dance moves. Though he never had much formal training, he was part of an impromptu dance crew in high school that would go around campus and entertain peers. "There are no videos out there," Russell claims. He's amazing.
Addison wants autographs just like everyone else. The only difference is the 23-year-old baseball star has his peers sign his Pokémon cards.
That’s right, Pokémon cards. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported that Russell has been having both his teammates and opposing players sign the collectible trading cards.
“I’ve signed a lot of baseball cards of myself, ” Russell said, per Rogers, “and I just thought it would be cool if professional athletes would sign Pokémon cards. I started collecting them more, and now I’m asking guys to sign them.”
His teammates had no issue with the odd request.
“I used to collect the cards growing up,” Kris Bryant said. “My neighbors back home collect them. I bought them a bunch of packs. So it’s funny, I get to spring training and Addy has this big ol’ sheet of Pokémon cards. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I loved it. I love everything about Addy. He’s a big kid.”
Russell has been sending clubhouse attendants to opposing clubhouses to ask his favorite players to sign the cards. But he doesn’t just a pick a card at random. Russell chooses a card that fits the player.
“If there are flame balls on them, I’ll get a closer like Kenley Jansen to sign,” Russell said. “I got him to sign when (the Dodgers) were at Wrigley Field. I think he signed my ‘Enflamed’ card.” The All-Star shortstop hasn’t been turned down by an opposing player yet.
“It was unique, man, and I was like, ‘OK, so what is he trying to do?’” Jansen said. “They asked for Pokémon (to be signed), and that meant he might like Pokémon, one of his favorite things. I think it was pretty awesome.”
Along with Jansen, Russell has asked the likes of Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve to sign his Pokémon cards. All in all, he has 25 signatures and isn’t planning on slowing down. (Joshua Schrock -April 24, 2017)
In 2017, Addison Russell's wife has filed for divorce and will not meet with Major League Baseball to discuss the investigation into domestic abuse claims against the player.
Russell was back in the Cubs' starting lineup June 17 for Chicago's loss against Colorado, two days after the shortstop denied an accusation of domestic violence against his wife.
Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove LLP, the law firm representing Melisa Russell, announced the divorce proceedings in a statement released June 21. MLB began its investigation earlier that month after Melisa, in an Instagram post, accused her husband of cheating and implied that the couple was breaking up. A comment related to the post from someone she identified as a close friend accused the player of physically abusing his wife. Melisa Russell has not publicly commented on the abuse allegation.
"It is her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties' son, and which occurs in a swift, amicable and private fashion," the firm's statement said.
Addison Russell has denied abusing his wife, saying in a statement that "any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful." (ESPN.com news services - June 22, 2017)
SUSPENSION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
September 21, 2018: Major League Baseball issued the following statement:
"Major League Baseball takes all allegations of Domestic Violence seriously. When the allegations against Addison Russell became public on June 7, 2017, the Commissioner's Office's Department of Investigations immediately commenced an investigation. Melisa Russell declined to participate in the investigation at that time. Our investigation of this matter has remained open and we have continued our efforts to gather information.
"With the new details revealed in today's blog post by Ms. Russell, Mr. Russell has been placed on Administrative Leave in accordance with the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy. We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible."
The Cubs also released a statement:
"We take allegations of domestic violence seriously and support the League's decision to place Addison Russell on administrative leave given new details revealed today. We will continue to cooperate with the League's investigation so the appropriate action can be taken." (MLB.com - September 21, 2018)
September 27, 2018: The Cubs announced that Russell will miss the rest of the regular season while Major League Baseball investigates domestic violence allegations from his ex-wife.
October 3, 2018: Russell has accepted a 40-game suspension without pay for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. The suspension, which is retroactive to Sept. 21, was announced by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday. Russell missed the Cubs' final 11 regular-season games as well as Tuesday's 2-1, 13-inning loss to the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game while he was on administrative leave as a result of the investigation. Russell has agreed not to appeal the discipline. Consistent with the terms of the policy, Russell will participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by the Joint Policy Board. (Carrie Muskat - MLB.com)
December 19, 2018: The mother of one of Addison Russell's children has come forward against the suspended Cub, claiming he paid child support using quarters and dollar bills three years ago and accusing him of directing the Cubs to block her on social media. (theScore staff)
February 15-May 8, 2019: Addison Russell spoke methodically, navigating his way through a series of questions several months in the making. When the Cubs shortstop took his seat in an interview room, it was his first time talking publicly about his ongoing suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Domestic Abuse Policy since being placed on administrative leave in September, 2018. Russell repeatedly said he took accountability, but did so without delving into the specifics regarding his past actions. What the shortstop did detail was his ongoing treatment, which involves weekly counseling beyond what MLB has mandated. He also offered an apology to anyone impacted by his behavior, especially his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy.
"I am accountable for my past actions," Russell said. "I'm not proud of the person I was, but I do want to own this issue and take responsibility for the hurt and the pain that I have caused Melisa. And, for that, I am sorry."
Russell is a full participant in Spring Training with the Cubs, meaning he can go through daily workouts and play in Cactus League games with the ballclub. Once Opening Day arrives, Russell will remain on MLB's restricted list and finish out the 40-game suspension handed out last season. The shortstop has 28 games left, making him eligible for return at the start of May, 2019.
As both manager Joe Maddon and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein have emphasized, though, what Russell has been given is a "conditional" second chance. Epstein said both Russell and the team are in the "second inning" of this process, and there are no guarantees that the shortstop has a job waiting for him. Russell has to keep working his way through the treatment program and meeting the standards set before him by the Cubs.
"We've talked about the fact that there's so many ifs attached to him coming back right now," Maddon said.. "If he continues to do what he's doing right now, obviously, everything's headed in the right direction. Within the group itself, a lot of it's going to depend on him." Maddon said that both he and Russell will address the team about this issue when the full squad is in camp. In the meantime, Russell has already been going through morning workouts with teammates and talking to them behind the scenes.
"My teammates have shown nothing but support for me and my family," Russell said. "I think through this whole process, the person that has been inflicted the most in this process is Melisa. And what I want to say to everyone here today, and also to her, is that I want to own those actions. And I am sorry for the hurt that I have caused Melisa and the pain that I put her through. And I am [making] my best efforts to become a better person." Asked directly if he would no longer deny the accusations against him, Russell said: "I want to own my actions. I want to be accountable for the hurt that I put Melisa through and the pain that she went through. That's what I want to own."
Fully aware of the public scrutiny over the decision to retain Russell, the Cubs are also trying to address domestic violence not only with the shortstop and his ex-wife, but on a broader scale. Epstein noted this week that every employee in the organization has either completed or is going through a domestic violence awareness course. Staff members who are around players' families will take part in an even more extensive 40-hour program.
Epstein also said the Cubs are working with Family Rescue and the House of Good Shepherd to help further efforts to assist people impacted by domestic violence.
"Experts say you can never say domestic violence will never happen again here," Epstein said. "But you can still take every step necessary to ensure that this is the safest possible workplace and that we have the smallest possible chance of any domestic violence occurring within these walls."
Russell said he understands that he has disappointed a long list of people, and he knows that it will take time to repair the damage done both on the personal and professional fronts. He reiterated that baseball is secondary in all of this, as he works behind the scenes to better himself and his relationships.
"I understand that there's Cubs fans that don't understand this process that I'm going through," Russell said. "I'm sorry for letting the Cub fans down, along with the organization. What I want to say to them is, I am committed in my work to become a better person, and be a better person at the end of this."
Russell said that his relationship with Reidy is heading "in the right direction," and his therapy has contributed to an improved atmosphere with his family and children. He added that his family was appreciative of the fact that the Cubs did not simply cut ties with the shortstop. Last year, when the allegations surfaced and the suspension followed, Russell said he hoped that the Cubs would give him a second chance.
"But I realize the severity of this issue," he said. "And I want to address this issue, and I want to be accountable for my past behaviors and tell everyone that I am committed." (J Bastian - MLB.com - Feb 15, 2019)
May 8, 2019: Addison Russell appeared more relaxed seated on an elevated bench in the Cubs' dugout and surrounded by reporters and television cameras. His answers were not nearly as monotonous and repetitive as they were during his first press conference early in Spring Training. Given the serious nature of Russell's return to the Cubs, who recalled the infielder from Triple-A Iowa prior to Wednesday's game against the Marlins, every word he utters and movement he makes will understandably be under the microscope. Russell recently completed a 40-game suspension for violating MLB's Domestic Violence Policy and knows that there are fans who did not want him to wear a Cubs uniform again.
"Somewhere along the line, we have to be responsible for things that we're not proud of doing," Russell said. "And we have to serve that time. I served that time. Whether it's backlash or being suspended, it's been tough. That's just one of many things that I had to go through this whole process, is feeling that heat, being put down in that low part and serving out that time. It's not fun. It's not fun at all.
"But, I think where I feel like my heart is getting bigger is when I have validation from my friends and family and teammates. That really makes this whole process a lot easier." “We have to be responsible for things that we’re not proud of doing.”
Given Javier Baez's strong play as Chicago's everyday shortstop, Russell rejoined the Cubs as a second baseman and was slotted into the eighth spot of the starting lineup in the 3-2, 11-inning win over Miami. It marked his first game at Wrigley Field since September 16 of last season. In the third inning, Russell led off and was greeted by a mixed reaction from the crowd. There was applause and some cheers, but a heavy dose of boos could be heard. He struck out in his first at-bat and finished 0-for-3 with a walk.
In a lengthy press conference prior to the game, Cubs President Theo Epstein said that Russell did not deserve to receive a warm reception from fans.
"He doesn't deserve to be met with an unconditionally warm welcome and with open arms," Epstein said. "I think he will receive an appropriate response, and that's something he needs to take responsibility for, to process, to handle the right way and to grow from. I think it's all part of the process. He knows it's a long road back to earn peoples' trust, whether that's the organization, most importantly, the people in his life on a daily basis, his teammates, and then the fans.
"It's not something that you get back easily. It's something that he has to earn. Because of the work he's put in, he's still a part of this organization, and I think that buys him a chance to try to earn peoples' trust back." Epstein: “This is not the finish line.”
As part of the moves, the Cubs placed reliever Pedro Strop on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring injury and activated lefty Mike Montgomery (left lat) from the IL. Versatile veteran Ben Zobrist was granted a leave of absence and placed on the restricted list due to undisclosed personal reasons. There was no immediate timeline for Zobrist’s return.
Russell was suspended inOctober 2018 (retroactive to Sept. 21) following allegations of physical and mental abuse by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy. After the club opted to retain the shortstop over the offseason, Epstein stressed that the organization was going to address the issue of domestic violence not only with Russell and his family, but within the entire organization.
Behind the scenes, Russell has followed the mandates set forth by MLB as part of his treatment plan, while also going through his own counseling outside of the league's requirements. The Cubs made domestic violence training mandatory for every team employee (players and otherwise), and Epstein noted that the club is also working with local organizations (Family Rescue and the House of Good Shepherd) to raise awareness on the topic and provide donations and resources, too.
"This is not the end of the line," Epstein said. "We're not looking for any sort of recognition for this work. I just think it's appropriate for us to be held accountable with the decision that we made not to cut ties with Addison, but to give him a conditional second chance in the hopes of becoming a small part of the solution. That's something that we should be held accountable for and we need to be transparent."
Throughout the process, Epstein has reiterated that nothing has been guaranteed to Russell, though his promotion shows that the club has been encouraged by his off-field progress over the past several months. Epstein has noted multiple times that the team has also maintained contact with Reidy throughout its decision-making process on Russell.
"And I'm not just taking Addison's word for it, either," Epstein said. "I've remained in touch with the people who are important to him, the people who are in his orbit, including Melisa. And I've received a lot of positive testimonials about Addison's growth to this point, the improvement in his coping skills and emotional control and his communication skills, his engagement as a father. So, there are positive signs to this point.
"He has the majority of the work ahead of him. He has a long road ahead of him. This rehabilitation process is long. For a lot of people, it's life-long."
The Cubs tendered the 25-year-old Russell a contract on Nov. 30, and then avoided arbitration with the infielder on January 11 with a one-year contract that included a base salary of $3.4 million (plus available bonuses). Russell was reinstated from MLB's restricted list on May 2, but was optioned to Iowa to continue to garner plate appearances, while playing both shortstop (66 1/3 innings in eight games) and second base (30 2/3 innings in four games).
In 12 games with Iowa, Russell hit .222 with three homers, 13 RBIs and an .824 OPS in 45 at-bats.
Over parts of four seasons with the Cubs, Russell has hit .242 with 51 homers, 230 RBIs and a .704 OPS in 533 games. While he has maintained an elite defensive presence at shortstop, Russell has seen an offensive drop off in the past two years. He hit .250/.317/.340 in 2018 for Chicago and has turned in a 79 OPS+ (indicating he has performed 21 percent below league average) over the past two seasons combined.
Russell admitted that there were times he doubted he would step foot in Wrigley Field again as a member of the Cubs.
"A lot of thoughts have crossed my mind. That was just definitely one of many," he said. "I'm happy that I have this second opportunity. And I'm looking forward and still improving as a person." (J Bastian - MLB.com - May 9, 2019)
May 10, 2019: The response that Addison Russell received from the Wrigley Field crowd in his season debut earlier this week was mixed. There were plenty of boos with some applause mixed underneath, and Russell knew that would be the case when his name was announced for the first time this year. And Russell is understanding of how any fan feels he or she wants to react to his return to the field.
"Everyone's entitled to doing whatever they want to do," Russell said prior to the game against the Brewers, "thinking whatever they want to think, saying whatever they want to say. The reaction to me, I feel like, I have to respect that. My actions are what they are, and I've got to be responsible for them."
Russell rejoined the Cubs following a brief stint in Triple-A Iowa and the completion of a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Domestic Violence Policy. The infielder held a lengthy press conference with reporters that day and has continued to make himself available for interviews—in one-on-one or group settings -- over the past few days.
“We have to be responsible for things that we’re not proud of doing.”
One of Russell's quotes in a Sun-Times story on Thursday did not sit well with some fans.
"I'm a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs," Russell was quoted as saying. "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."
During a nearly 10-minute session with media on Friday morning, Russell clarified his comments.
"When I have to speak, it's just coming from the heart," Russell said. "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 than what the fan thinks. I have to deliver. I have to focus. So the fans may not like it, but I have to do what I have to do."
Russell noted that he continues to have multiple discussions with his personal therapist each week to deal with off-field situations, as well as elements of his return to the Cubs. That will include upcoming road trips, during which Russell knows he will encounter more media interviews and potentially negative responses from fans in different cities. He said he is prepared to answer questions and block out the noise.
"I totally understand. This is a serious issue," Russell said. "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." (J Bastian - MLB.com - May 10, 2019)
June 2012: The A's chose Russell in the first round of the draft, out of Pace High School in Pace, Florida. He was the 11th player chosen. And he signed for $2.6 million with scout Kelcey Mucker.
July 4, 2014: The Cubs sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hamel to the A's, acquiring Russell and pitcher Dan Straily.
March 4, 2016: The Cubs and Russell agreed to a one-year deal for $527,000.
January 12, 2018: Russell and the Cubs avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.2 million.
- January 11, 2019: Russell and the Cubs avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.4 million.