(CBS) Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was back at Wrigley Field on Friday, one day after he stayed away from the ballpark as the team gave him a day off to sort out personal matters following a domestic abuse allegation that surfaced late Wednesday.
The 23-year-old Russell is active and available to play, though he’ll come off the bench as Javier Baez once again starts at shortstop when the Cubs host the Rockies on Friday afternoon.
Russell on Thursday denied the domestic abuse accusation in a statement, calling it “false and hurtful.” He met with the media prior to Friday’s game but declined to address his personal matters that also include alleged infidelity, instead discussing how he just wanted to play baseball again. Russell hasn’t played at all in the past two games and said he watched his team’s 4-1 loss to the Rockies on Thursday on television at home.
“I felt sad, man,” Russell said while adding he also appreciated the Cubs giving him a mental break. “This is what I do, this is what I love. I love being here, in this clubhouse with the boys, having fun. This is my home.”
Russell is struggling mightily this season, hitting .209 with a .626 OPS, but he refused to use his personal drama as an excuse for his on-field performance.
“No, no,” Russell said. “There’s periods of time where you’re struggling, you’re scuffling and sometimes you stink. I know being young, in the major leagues, is going to come with a lot of adversity. But I’m here for a reason. It’s because I’m good.
“Every day brings a new learning curve. You tackle those adversities day by day and you overcome those. It’s only going to make you a better player, a better person at the end of the day.”
Russell is fully ready to play, though he didn’t know if he’d return to the starting lineup Saturday.
“I’m here to stay,” he said. “This is my job.”
Russell thanked the Cubs for their support.
“They’ve been there for me, every step of the way,” Russell said. “They’ve given me the chance to sort out the things I need to sort and all the things I need as far as stabilization, it’s right here. They’ve handled it great.”