Good news on the injury front for the Cubs, as Addison Russell’s foot injury has progressed to the point where he can play in games.
Out since early August with a muscular strain and plantar fasciitis in his foot, Russell will start a rehab assignment today with the Iowa Cubs (together with Justin Grimm, per ESPN).
With September’s roster expansion approaching (teams can use the full 40-man roster in September), the hope would be that Russell could return sometime soon after the flip of the calendar. Given how long he’s been out, though, he will want to get in some at bats against live pitching to ramp back up, as well as obviously test out the foot in game action, and see how he feels the next day. Against that backdrop, I’d say a return by the time the Cubs head to Pittsburgh for a four-game set starting September 4 would be a good goal.
Having Russell back, even if he doesn’t start every single game at shortstop now that Javy Baez has solidified himself as an excellent option there, will undoubtedly help the Cubs. When Russell is at his best, he still probably defensively better at shortstop than Baez. And Baez’s defensive ability at second base is unparalleled.
Offensively, you hope that Russell comes back swinging the same hot bat he had when he went down with the injury. After the All-Star break, Russell was squaring up the ball consistently, and was hitting .306/.338/.565 (125 wRC+).
Meanwhile, the Sun-Times reports that MLB’s domestic violence investigation into Russell is still ongoing. At last check, Russell’s agent expressed confidence that there would not be punishment for Russell, and it’s not entirely clear what is taking the process so long.
In June, Major League Baseball began investigating allegations of domestic violence levied on social media against Russell. The allegations came via a friend of Russell’s wife Melisa, who has since filed for divorce after her own allegations of infidelity. She has elected not to speak publicly about her friend’s claims.
In the Sun-Times report, Joe Maddon said the same thing I was thinking, to be honest: he’s heard so little about it that he thought the whole thing was over.
If MLB finds cause, it remains possible that Russell could face discipline before this season is over, but that seems fairly unlikely at this point.