BC-BBN--Cubs-Russell Returns,1st Ld-Writethru
CHICAGO (AP) — Shortstop Addison Russell is rejoining the Chicago Cubs after completing a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy and then spending extra time in the minors to get ready.
The Cubs recalled Russell from Triple-A Iowa before Wednesday night’s game against the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field. He was set to start at second base and bat eighth.
Russell was eligible to rejoin the Cubs on May 3 against St. Louis at Wrigley Field, but the organization opted to give him more time with the minor league club to prepare for his return.
In a corresponding move, the Cubs placed infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist on the restricted list. Team spokesman Peter Chase said the veteran was leaving the team for an indefinite period for personal reasons.
Russell was suspended last fall after a series of allegations made by ex-wife Melisa Reidy. Without getting into specifics, he said in February that he was accountable for his past actions and apologized for “the hurt and the pain” he caused.
Russell was working out in Arizona, playing in extended spring training games and meeting with a counselor twice a week, before joining Iowa in late April.
The 25-year-old Russell hasn’t played for the Cubs since Sept. 19. The suspension covered the final 12 games in 2018 and the first 28 this year. In 12 games at Iowa, Russell went 12 for 45 (.222) with three homers and 13 RBIs.
Russell was once considered one of baseball’s top young infielders. He helped the Cubs win the World Series three years ago, batting .238 with 21 homers and 95 RBIs in 151 games as the team snapped a 108-year championship drought. The Cubs faced criticism for retaining Russell after his suspension.
Javier Baez moved from second base to shortstop following Russell’s suspension and finished second in the NL MVP race last season. He has been the Cubs’ starting shortstop this year.
MLB began an investigation in 2017 after allegations against Russell first became public.
Reidy posted a photo on her Instagram account two years ago with a caption suggesting her husband of about 18 months had been unfaithful to her. In another post, a user described by Reidy as a close friend claimed Russell had “hit” his wife. The post was later deleted.
Reidy declined to talk to MLB at the time because she decided it was not in her family’s best interests, her attorney, Thomas Field, said last year. MLB kept the case open.
Reidy published a blog post last September describing more detailed allegations, including years of physical and emotional abuse. Less than 12 hours later, MLB announced Russell had been put on leave under its domestic violence policy. And he accepted the suspension on Oct. 3.