Leading up to May 10, Addison Russell’s right shoulder was bugging him enough that he wound up missing a couple days of games, though he did not go to the disabled list.
Since getting that time off, there have been questions about the efficacy of his throws from shortstop, and Russell is hitting just .186/.314/.326 with contact numbers that are even worse than earlier this year.
The mostly good news there is that Joe Maddon says he’s not concerned about Russell’s shoulder being a lingering issue.
“I’ve never seen him throw the ball so well with so much on it,” Maddon told CSN of Russell’s throws in Los Angeles this past weekend. “I just think technique-wise, he’s off to the side of the ball a little bit, which is causing it to sink somewhat or sail. But physically, arm strength-wise, I thought L.A. was the best I’ve seen him throw the baseball since I’ve known him, just from purely a velocity perspective.”
The reason I call that “mostly” good news is that, while you don’t want a player to be dealing with any kind of lingering injury, that would have potentially explained the otherwise perplexing dip in Russell’s performance at the plate this year.
At all time with Russell (and Kyle Schwarber, for that matter), we have to remember how young he is – he only just this year turned 23 – and that he had barely 200 minor league games under his belt when he was summoned to the big leagues in 2015.
Hopefully, then, there’s just another period of adjustment going on for Russell as he works to elevate his game overall. And he’s shown the ability to improve as the season goes on: in the first half in his young career, he’s hit just .228/.311/.373, but in his two second halves with the Cubs, he’s improved to .249/.314/.431.
As for Russell’s slump, Maddon says that you just have to be patient with young players, and that he’ll continue to work Javy Baez in at shortstop to keep Russell fresh.