Cubs’ Addison Russell tries to tune out Machado trade chatter that won’t go away

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Russell

CINCINNATI — It took a matter of seconds after Cubs shortstop Addison Russell’s error to start the Reds’ sixth inning Saturday afternoon for Twitter to again dial up the calls for Manny Machado.

“Manny would’ve never made an error like that,” one fan tweeted.

“I’d trade Russell for 4 months of Machado in a second,” another fired off.

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A few hours earlier in the Cubs’ clubhouse, Russell talked about his “perfect day” Friday, when he reached base all five trips to the plate in a victory over the Reds — and about how he doesn’t waste time thinking about the rumors involving the team’s interest in the Orioles’ superstar shortstop.

“I really don’t pay any attention to all that stuff,” said Russell, whose error opened a two-run inning for the Reds that proved big when they went on to beat the Cubs 5-4 with a bases-loaded walk in the 11th in the first game of a doubleheader.

“All I know is I play for the Cubs, and I’m going to play for the Cubs as hard as I can.”

But know this, too: This isn’t going away unless or until Machado goes somewhere else when the Orioles inevitably trade him this summer.

And this: It’s the middle of May, so this might have more than two months to play out, build up and toy with the emotions of player and fans alike on a weekly or sometimes daily basis.

On May 7, the Sun-Times reported the Cubs, who talked with the Orioles about Machado over the winter, plan to talk to them again in the coming weeks, with a potential deal almost certain to include Russell. On Thursday, Jon Heyman of Fanragsports.com tweeted the Cubs “may be most likely landing spot for Machado.”

Russell, who batted cleanup in Game 1 and struck out to strand the go-ahead run at second in the eighth, said he’s trying to keep his mind on an approach at the plate that had him go 15-for-46 (.326) in his last 12 games (through the first game Saturday), with six extra-base hits and nine walks (.436 on-base percentage).

<em>Machado</em>

Machado

“As far as the trade rumors, if it happens it happens,” he said. “But I don’t pay them any attention. The only time I really even hear about it is with the media bringing it up.”

Manager Joe Maddon said he likes the focus and results he has seen lately from Russell, who’s still just 24 in his fourth season in the majors.

Russell, a 2016 All-Star who last season dealt with injuries and off-the-field issues that included a domestic-violence accusation, said the growing chatter about Machado has not affected him.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’ve been in a trade once [from the Athletics in 2014], and this is a great organization. The Cubs have stuck with me whenever I went through a lot of things. It would be sad if I had to leave. But I’m very thankful for the Cubs for giving me the opportunity to play.”

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