Chicago Cubs second baseman Addison Russell returned from a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy on Wednesday and heard a chorus of boos from the home crowd at Wrigley Field.
“I’m a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m one of the dudes in this clubhouse. I’m one of the guys who goes out there and puts his (body) on the line. We do it because we love it. We want to win, and we want to bring another championship to Chicago. And if hometown fans want to boo someone that’s trying to help bring the team a World Series again, then that’s on them.”
Russell said he is taking a hiatus from social media — running on two weeks now — but plans to go back at some point. He’s not expecting to find a forgiving public, but hasn’t missed hearing from so-called trolls.
“It’s been good for me and for my family. The vibe I put out is the vibe my family receives and my friends and teammates receive – and it’s not going to be altered by a troll or an angry beat writer or something like that,” Russell said.
Manager Joe Maddon and team president Theo Epstein separately voiced support for Russell. The 25-year-old was accused by his former wife of abuse, and fans called for him to be released.
General manager Jed Hoyer and owner Tom Ricketts helped drive the decision to retain Russell on a one-year, $3.4 million deal. Under terms of the contract, Russell can be released for one-sixth of that salary and there is no trade restriction in the deal.
“We knew that it would be unpopular in some ways,” Hoyer said in the offseason. “People have a visceral reaction to reading about what happened. So did we. The more that we worked and talked to experts and worked through it … we felt like having a conditional second chance was the right thing to do. It was recommended by experts.”