President Theo Epstein wouldn’t say whether Addison Russell will play for the Cubs again after he was suspended for 40 games without pay Wednesday for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-abuse policy.
But Epstein said the Cubs wouldn’t turn their back on Russell as he participates in a comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy Board. Epstein also said the Cubs would reach out and assist Melisa Reidy-Russell, who two weeks ago accused her ex-husband of physical and mental abuse and provided details in a subsequent investigation by MLB.
“I think it’s our obligation as a club and my obligation to see what we can do better going forward, to see what we can do to prevent this from happening again,” Epstein said less than an hour after MLB announced the penalty, which is retroactive to Sept. 21.
“We’ll reach out to the victim, learn from it and give her support. We’ll talk to Addy and give Addy the necessary support so he can get the help he needs to make sure this never happens again.”
Given that Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts tells his players each spring to be responsible citizens as well as responsible players, it seems unlikely that Russell will play for the Cubs again.
Allegations against Russell, 24, originally surfaced in June of 2017 from a third party on social media. Russell’s ex-wife declined to talk to investigators then, but MLB never closed the case. Reidy-Russell chose to cooperate after writing on a blog linked to her Instagram account that she was physically and mentally abused.
Russell agreed to not appeal the ruling less than two weeks after issuing a statement declaring his innocence.
Epstein said he supported MLB’s decision, emphasizing the suspension “is part of the solution going forward.”
“But prevention is a big part of the solution and maybe a more important part of the solution,” Epstein said.
Epstein added that the Cubs’ involvement would send “messages to our fans.”
“I personally think the most important thing is being part of the solution going forward. … We want to make sure it doesn’t happen on our watch.”
The Cubs faced a tough decision regarding Russell’s future even before the allegations surfaced. He batted .250 with only five home runs and 38 RBIs in 130 games while dealing with a sore right shoulder and a swollen left middle finger.