This weekend, Addison Russell had the kind of game you don’t too often see outside the little league fields, with rudimentary baserunning mistakes, fielding miscues, communication problems, and what seemed like a general lack of being attentive to the game. It was a sufficiently bad day that it drew the ire of Joe Maddon, something you never see publicly about his players.
Russell spoke with ESPN about the game, and his comments offered some honest admissions of his failings on the field, so that was good, but it also makes you wonder about what in the world he’s doing to prepare for games and stay focused:
I spoke with Addison Russell today, and, well, he admitted to even more mistakes over the weekend than we knew — unsolicited. Story here: https://t.co/n78ilwgZ6W
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 23, 2019
Among Russell’s comments, with WTF emphasis added: “Also, not missing signs, as well [is something to work on]. Stay on top of those. Remind myself, I need to become more familiar with the signs, as well. So there’s no gap there. You know exactly what’s being put on so you can do your job more efficient …. At the plate and on the bases. Just being aware … I haven’t played as much as I’ve liked to play, but it’s no excuse for not being in the moment. You have small mistakes like that, and it’s definitely something you can be better at. Especially from the mental side.”
Like we’ve said before, Russell clearly isn’t the most comfortable guy talking in these situations to the media, but it is almost impressive how many times in just a couple months that he’s said things that leave you wondering what on earth he’s thinking.
What are we to take from this? That Russell sometimes literally doesn’t even know the team’s signs? How do you hear that as a teammate and not get pissed? And to suggest that he doesn’t know them – or doesn’t stay focused – because he’s not playing enough?
If this were a guy who hadn’t made so many mistakes before, then you might be more inclined to give this a pass – or even laud it for the candor. Everyone makes mistakes on the field, and all that, and maybe some guys do need to spend a little more time brushing up on their signs. Maybe Russell isn’t alone in that.
But when you come with the on-field history that Russell does? Boneheaded plays? Baserunning mistakes? An out and out refusal to stop yourself from chucking the bat? I am just so less inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Cubs already took a giant leap in allowing Russell to return to the team after his domestic violence suspension – a leap for which they were justifiably criticized, and for which they openly invited the close scrutiny that would follow. And now it seems like Russell invites further scrutiny almost daily with his on-field performance and lack of focus.
What does accountability even look like at this point?