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Addison Russell returns to Cubs as MLB investigates abuse allegation

Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell in the dugout on Aug. 4, 2015.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Addison Russell has returned to the Chicago Cubs, one day after Major League Baseball began a domestic abuse investigation involving the shortstop.

Russell wasn’t in the starting lineup for Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies but was available to play. Javy Baez started at shortstop.

Shortly after arriving at Wrigley Field, Russell said: “I’m here to stay. This is my job. This is what I love doing.”

Russell denies the allegation that he physically abused his wife, Melisa. On Wednesday, she posted a photo on her Instagram account with a caption suggesting he had been unfaithful to her. In another post, a user — described by Melisa as a close friend — made the accusation that Russell had “hit” his wife.

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The posts have since been deleted.

Russell issued a statement Thursday, saying, “Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful. For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment.”

Spokesman Patrick Courtney said MLB is looking into the situation. Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the department “does not have any current investigation” into Russell or allegations of domestic violence.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said he found out about the accusation during Wednesday’s game against the Miami Marlins. Epstein and manager Joe Maddon met with Russell afterward.

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The Cubs told Russell not to come to the ballpark for Thursday’s game against the Colorado Rockies. Epstein said the shortstop was not suspended.

“It’s a very serious allegation, and it’s something we had to deal with immediately,” Epstein said.

Russell’s comments to him after Wednesday’s game were “very consistent” with the statement he issued, Epstein said. Epstein added that the Cubs also reached out to Melisa Russell, although he would not provide any more details.

Addison Russell made the NL All-Star team last season and helped the Cubs win their first World Series championship since 1908. But he has struggled this year.

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Russell is batting .209 with three homers and 19 RBIs. One of the game’s best defensive shortstops, he also has had some lapses in the field.

The news about Russell surprised teammates, some saying they were reserving judgment until the issue is resolved.

“You’ve got to just find out what’s going on,” All-Star Anthony Rizzo said. “I love Addison. We’ve had some really good memories together. I love him here. I don’t know what’s going on outside of this. You just want to find out what’s going on.”

Reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant called the news “unfortunate” and “shocking.”

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“I want to be a good teammate,” he said. “You always want to be able to help. But Addy’s gonna find a way to handle it.”

Pitcher Jake Arrieta said the Cubs “of course” support Russell, saying: “He’s a big part of our team. Other than that, there’s really not much to say at this point.”


UPDATES:

10:05 a.m.: This post was updated with Russell returning to the Cubs.

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This article was originally published at 7:30 a.m.


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