Joe Maddon Says the Plans for Addison Russell Are Still "In Flux"

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Joe Maddon Says the Plans for Addison Russell Are Still “In Flux”

Chicago Cubs

If the Chicago Cubs are planning to call up Addison Russell on Friday, the day his suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy concludes, they certainly haven’t made it clear.

Cubs President Theo Epstein recently left open the possibility that the team could option Russell to AAA Iowa, where he is currently on a one-week reconditioning stint, when his big league suspension is up. Although Russell is performing well offensively in a small sample (.250/.423/.500, good peripherals), he only just made his first start at second base last night. If the Cubs are going to give him some serious time to adjust there, then perhaps he’d need more than just a few games at second.

Of course, even then, it’s still in flux where he’ll play when he comes up, whenever that happens, according to his manager:

I suspect there’s another version of this reality where the Cubs have already said openly that of course Russell is returning on Friday. I have no idea what that reality looks like, but it probably has a Russell that proceeded differently, a big league roster performing differently, and a gaping hole at shortstop.

In this reality, however, the Cubs only debatably even need Russell on the big league roster right now, and his work through the suspension has left a lot of ambiguity about what exactly he’s done. Do I think the Cubs are probably better, on the baseball field, with Russell on the bench instead of, for example, Mark Zagunis? Yeah, I think probably having Russell available as a late-inning defensive guy is pretty valuable. And if there is no disruption to the clubhouse, then you could see how the Cubs would – in terms of the baseball considerations in 2019 – want him back as soon as he’s eligible.

But the Cubs have declined to say that’s definitely what is going to happen. I still suspect it is what’s going to happen, but the lips remain very tight on this point.

A bonus consideration, but this is just common sense:

We’ve already said pretty plainly that it would be a mistake at this point to outright give Russell back his shortstop job and move Baez around to accommodate it. But Baez has certainly earned the right to share his candid thoughts on how this all works together – maybe he still wants to occasionally see time at other spots. Maybe he wants a little more rest to be at his best. Maybe he wants the Cubs to announce that he’s the starting shortstop. Who knows. The point is that the Cubs owe it to him, in this situation, to make sure he feels 100% comfortable with however they proceed.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.