CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs infielder Addison Russell is returning to the field tonight following a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, the Cubs confirmed Wednesday.
The Cubs said Wednesday during a press conference Russell will start tonight’s game against the Marlins at second base.
Another surprise announcement was revealed Wednesday in the locker room when the Cubs said Ben Zobrist was granted a leave of absence for “personal reasons.”
Accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, Russell in February called his “past behaviors wrong and unacceptable.”
“I just want to own that what I did was wrong, and inexcusable, and I’m sorry; sorry for the pain and hurt that I put Melisa through.”
In December 2018, after their divorce, Russell’s ex-wife, Melisa Reidy said Russell had kicked down a bedroom door, ripped their infant son from her arms, grabbed her by the shirt and threw her across the room.
The Cubs reacted with the 40-game suspension.
Last week Russell, 25, said he was focused on “trying to become a better person.”
During the suspension, Russell had been working out in Arizona, playing in extended spring training games and meeting with a counselor twice a week before joining Triple-A Iowa.
Russel addressed the media Wednesday.
“Overall, I feel like I’m a better person, hearing from my family and friends and teammates that I have improved is reassurance,” Russell said.
Russell said he is continuing therapy and he has a long road ahead.
“I’m committed to this,” he said.
Russell said he is happy to have this second opportunity. He said he has worked really hard to get to this point.
“I just want to be here to help this team win,” Russell said. “I won’t take this for granted.”
Russell was once considered one of baseball’s top young infielders. He helped the Cubs win the World Series three years ago, batting .238 with 21 homers and 95 RBIs in 151 games as the team snapped a 108-year championship drought.
Cubs owner Theo Epstein said Russell was being given a “conditional second chance,” and that the list of conditions was extensive.
Referring to his personal life, Epstein said Russell faces a “long road ahead.”
When speaking about Russell and Zobrist, Manager Joe Maddon said “you don’t run away quickly because something has gone awry.” He said they are family.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.