It didn’t take long for the Chicago Cubs to decide Addison Russell should be in the majors again. Less than a week after Russell’s domestic-violence suspension ended, the team has called him up. The news was initially reported by David Kaplan of NBC 5 Chicago.
The 25-year-old Russell was suspended for 40 games last October after violating the league’s domestic-violence policy. Russell was accused of physically and emotionally abusing his now ex-wife. The league got involved after Russell’s now ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, detailed specific instances of Russell’s abuse in a blog post. During the offseason, Reidy released a more detailed, graphic recounting of the abuse she endured from Russell.
Russell’s suspension ended May 3, but the team did not immediately bring him to the majors. Instead, the Cubs decided to keep Russell in Triple-A. At the time, team president Theo Epstein said that was a baseball decision.
Epstein said the team believed Russell deserved a “second chance.”
Theo Epstein on #Cubs calling up Addison Russell: "We decided a conditional second chance was appropriate."— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) May 8, 2019
Epstein adds Russell has met an "extensive list of conditions" to work his way back to this point.
It’s unclear how much playing time Russell will see with the team. With Javier Baez entrenched as the team’s shortstop, Russell will fill in at second base. It’s also unclear if Russell will be sent down once Zobrist and Descalso are back.
For some Cubs fans, the length of time Russell spends in the majors won’t matter at all. The fact that he’s even back in the first place will drive them away from the team.
When Russell’s suspension was first announced, some Cubs fans expressed a desire to see Russell traded or released before he played another game for the team.
Over the past couple seasons, Cubs fans have wrestled with rooting for a team that has willingly acquired players who make certain portions of fans feel marginalized.
The club acquired closer Aroldis Chapman for the stretch run in 2016. During March of that year, Chapman was suspended 30 games after allegedly choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots into his garage.
Last season, the team acquired infielder Daniel Murphy from the Washington Nationals. In 2015, Murphy made anti-gay comments, saying he disagreed with the gay “lifestyle.” When asked about those comments last season, Murphy’s answer left a lot to be desired.
With Russell back, that’s now three times over the past four seasons Cubs fans have had to rationalize rooting for a team that has prioritized winning over character.
For those fans, Russell’s activation may prove to be the final straw.
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