Cubs' Addison Russell calls wife abuse allegation 'false'
CHICAGO (AP) Major League Baseball is looking into a domestic violence accusation against Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell.
His wife, Melisa, posted a photo Wednesday on Instagram with a caption suggesting he was unfaithful to her. In another post, a user named (at)carlierreed - described by Melisa as a close friend - accused Russell of ''mentally and physically abusing her.'' The posts have been deleted.
Russell issued a statement Thursday that said: ''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 says 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.
The Cubs told Russell not to come to the ballpark for Thursday's game against the Colorado Rockies. Epstein said he's not sure when Russell will rejoin the team, though the shortstop is 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, though he would not provide any more details on that.
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.
Russell is batting .209 with three homers and 19 RBIs. One of the game's best defensive shortstops, he has also had some lapses in the field.
Maddon has been using Javier Baez more at shortstop lately in part so Russell and hitting coach John Mallee can work on his swing without him having to worry about playing that day. The manager had also sensed something was weighing on him.
''Sometimes, things bother you,'' Maddon said. ''I just knew that his game was off for a particular reason. But away from the field, I had no clue.''
The Cubs talked about emphasizing character and chemistry as they emerged as one of the majors' best teams and ultimately ended the longest championship drought in North American sports.
That didn't stop them from acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees last July even though he had served a 29-game suspension under MLB's domestic violence policy. That stemmed from an incident involving his girlfriend.
But unlike Russell, Chapman had already served his punishment. Epstein called them ''distinct situations.''
As for the clubhouse?
''I think we have great clubhouse chemistry, but real life happens all the time,'' Epstein said. ''Sometimes, it reaches the light of day. And sometimes, it doesn't. Serious situations come up throughout the course of the season. Right now, we're dealing with a very serious allegation.''
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.''
''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.''
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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Melisa Russell throughout.