Cubs Withholding Judgment On Addison Russell’s Situation, Aren’t Sure How Long He’ll Be Away From Team

(CBS) Shortstop Addison Russell won’t suit up for the Cubs on Thursday night because the team told him to “stay away from the ballpark” for at least a day, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, so Russell could devote his attention to dealing with a domestic violence allegation that surfaced Wednesday night, one that he’s since denied.

“It’s not a suspension at this time,” Epstein said Thursday afternoon before the Cubs hosted the Rockies.

Russell’s wife, Melisa, published an Instagram post Wednesday evening while the Cubs-Marlins game was being played that said the 23-year-old Russell had cheated on her and that indicated the two were breaking up. They were married in 2016. The post has since been deleted.

In a comment that came after the original post, an individual who identified herself as Melisa’s close friend told another Instagram user that Russell had hit his wife before.

Upon learning of this, Epstein followed up with Russell immediately after Wednesday’s game. He then contacted the league office early Thursday morning, and Major League Baseball has confirmed that it’s looking into the matter. The league stopped short of calling it a formal investigation.

It remains unclear how long Russell will be away from the Cubs. Epstein didn’t rule out placing Russell on the inactive list.

“We’re not sure,” Epstein said. “We’re going to see how the situation develops and how he’s doing. We’ll probably have more for you on that in the coming days.”

The attention to the matter has been largely left to the league, as Epstein said under the policy that teams take a step back and allow MLB to do all the investigative work.

“There’s not an investigation currently by Major League Baseball,” Epstein said. “Any investigative action or potential disciplinary action is exclusively the territory of Major League Baseball, per the MLB policy, not the club.

“Right now this is an allegation by a third party on social media — a serious allegation. That’s why he met immediately with Addison. That’s why we referred it immediately to Major League Baseball.

“We just don’t know. There’s not a lot more we can say.”

Kris Bryant takes Addison Russell situation seriously, wants to be a ‘good teammate’

The Cubs will play with a 24-man roster Thursday night. It marks the second straight game Russell won’t play, and he also didn’t start last Saturday or Monday. Russell has been struggling mightily at the plate, batting .209 with a .626 OPS this season after he was an All-Star in 2016.

“Any time a really good player is struggling, it’s either something physical, something fundamental or something off the field,” Epstein said. “That’s how we attack these things and try to help our players to put them in a position to perform.”

Epstein confirmed the Cubs also reached out to Russell’s wife, Melisa, though he didn’t reveal the nature of the conversation.

“We care about all the parties involved and hope for the best,” Epstein said. “But making any judgment would be inappropriate at this early stage.

“It’s not always just baseball in there. Everybody has a personal life. The real world happens every day. Guys, they know how to deal with it and still play the game.”

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