Addison Russell was absent not only from the lineup last night against the Rockies, but also from Wrigley Field entirely. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Russell is dealing with domestic abuse allegations levied at him from a friend of his wife, Melissa, on social media. He is reportedly back with the team and available today, though he is not in the starting lineup.
The allegations began after Melissa posted an image on Instagram with a caption that suggested she was moving on from an unfaithful Russell. There are more details and nuance surrounding the story, but we’ve already covered much of what’s out there (which isn’t a lot) earlier this week.
For today, I’ve collected a few thoughts from some Russell’s teammates on the ongoing situation. Unfortunately, but perhaps expectedly, they aren’t offering much. Like us, they are trying to figure out just what happened and save reactions or vindications or condemnations until more news comes out.
Russell has denied the allegations, and the post bearing the allegations has since been deleted. I know the truth is difficult to get to in domestic violence situations, but it’s important to keep perspective on what we know and what we don’t at this time.
On to his teammates’ thoughts …
- Anthony Rizzo speaks first (CSN Chicago) and he wants to remind Cubs’ fans that the players are all human beings and are constantly put on a “high level” – perhaps implying that the pressure of celebrity was a contributing factor to the issues going on off the field. In fact, he went onto suggest that things happen off the field all the time, but rarely get this deep into the media or public eye. Because of that unfortunate truth, however, Rizzo suggests that ballplayers (the ones not involved, of course) have learned to “deal” with this sort of stuff. While that’s not something you hope they’d be good at dealing with, you can hope that the Cubs don’t let this affect them on the field. Watch him speak here.
- Rizzo had more to say, and I’ll present it without any further comment: “I love Addison. We’ve had some really good memories together, but I don’t know. I love him here. I don’t know what’s going on outside of this.”
- Jon Lester addressed the issue as well, but remained a full arm’s length away, to say the least: “The next guy will step in and hopefully fill that void. That’s all you can really do in this game. You can’t dwell on the negatives and you look forward to tomorrow.” Given his outward demeanor (not a bad thing, just a more private player) and the fact that the Cubs held a team meeting to discuss how to discus these particular allegations, a lack of candor was probably to be expected.
- Kris Bryant had addressed these allegations on the Score yesterday, but hit us with the “it’s obviously a tough situation and unfortunate,” adding, “I don’t really know what to say.” His comments mirrored that of Anthony Rizzo’s earlier comments, which is to say, broadly, “it’s too early to discuss.” While this is almost certainly what the Cubs discussed at the team meeting, I think it’s probably the best move. They are in an unbelievably delicate situation regarding serious allegations against one of their friends and teammates. Restraint is the only way forward.
- You can see more thoughts here at the Tribune from Jake Arrieta, Carl Edwards Jr., Albert Almora, and Kyle Schwarber, each essentially expressing two things: support for their teammate, and a lack of knowledge about the facts. Again, restraint is the order of the day.
And to that end, I would offer that it’s good for us all to show the same restraint in discussing this entire situation that the Cubs have shown. And let me remind you that NO ONE is pro-domestic abuse. It’s your duty as the good person you are not to draw premature conclusions in one direction or the other. If and when the circumstances change, with more information in hand, then we can decide how we feel.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.