Posted on June 8, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell will not be in uniform as his team begins a series with the Colorado Rockies on Thursday. The Cubs have made it clear that Russell is not being suspended. However, he’s being given Thursday night off to sort out issues in his personal life following allegations of domestic abuse made by his wife, Melisa.
Melisa Russell made the allegations against the Chicago shortstop in an Instagram post published Wednesday evening. At the time, Addison Russell was at Wrigley Field as the Cubs played the Marlins, although he did not play in the game. The Instagram post has since been deleted. However, it alleged that Russell had cheated on her and implied that the couple was on the verge of breaking up. A comment on the post made by a close friend of Melisa’s alleged mental and physical abuse against Melisa by Russell.
“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said in a brief statement issued Thursday afternoon. “For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment.”
Major League Baseball will investigate the matter in keeping with their policy on players accused of domestic violence. The Cubs have also released a statement acknowledging the situation and their intentions to cooperate with the MLB investigation.
“Last night, we were made aware of a serious claim posted on social media about Addison Russell. We reached out to Major League Baseball and, following the protocol established by MLB, will fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office as it gathers pertinent facts,” the statement from the Cubs read. “Addison will not be in uniform tonight to allow him to work through this matter.”
The allegations against Russell have come at a difficult time for him professionally. Russell has started to lose playing time recently to Javier Baez in recent weeks. He’s hitting just .209 with an OPS of .626 on the season. Baez, meanwhile, has been the more productive player offensively, hitting .261 with an OPS of .784.
Russell is the second major leaguer to be accused of domestic violence in as many days. Wednesday morning, MLB announced an investigation of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris. Norris is being accused of “physical and emotional” abuse by his ex-fiance Kristin Eck. Norris, like Russell, was quick to deny the allegations.
However, unlike Russell, Norris played Wednesday, the day the claims were made. He was also in the team’s starting lineup on Thursday. It remains to be seen if the Cubs will give Russell more time to sort through the issue or if he will rejoin the team on Friday.
Players being accused of domestic violence continues to be a problem for Major League Baseball. Mets closer Jeurys Familia was arrested last fall for domestic violence, and while charges against him were dropped, he served a 15-game suspension at the start of the season. Hector Olivera, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Reyes all served suspensions during the 2016 season following arrests for domestic violence and subsequent investigations by MLB.
It’s important to note that neither Russell or Norris have been arrested or charged with a crime at this time. However, as was the case for previous players, MLB will conduct its own investigation that’s separate from any criminal investigation. The league can also levy punishment against the players even if no charges are filed.
It’s possible that either Russell or Norris could face suspension from MLB. But at this point, it’s too soon to tell what direction MLB’s investigation will take. In any event, off-field behavior by players continues to be an issue for Major League Baseball despite the league’s efforts to crack down on domestic violence.