Cubs regroup after Addison Russell accusations, focus on jobs in win over Sox

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Baez homered in the top of the first inning and ended the bottom of the first with a spectacular play in the hole at short.

Carl Edwards Jr. texted Addison Russell on Friday but hadn’t heard back by late afternoon Saturday. Manager Joe Maddon said he hadn’t talked to the shortstop.

And almost to a man in the Cubs’ clubhouse, teammates still processing what they know — and mostly don’t know — about the most recent domestic-violence accusations against Russell seem to downplay the potentially disorienting impact as they try to close out a division title.

“I didn’t want to call him,” said Edwards, one of Russell’s closest friends in the clubhouse, who planned to reach out again by Sunday.

“I mean, we don’t know — I don’t know,” Edwards said of accusations and baseball’s renewed investigation, which put Russell on administrative leave. “It’s kind of hard to put your two cents in.”

After a flat performance and loss Friday, Maddon didn’t deny the off-the-field issues have had an impact — just ahead of Saturday’s 8-3 victory over the White Sox in which the Cubs never trailed.

“I would hope that didn’t distract guys,” said Jon Lester (17-6), who labored at times through five innings to fifth victory in six decisions. “We have plenty of other distractions outside the clubhouse to kind of take us away from baseball.

“This clubhouse has been through enough adversity through the four years I’ve been here to move on from anything that goes on outside this clubhouse.”

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Russell’s replacement at shortstop, Javy Baez, ignited the Cubs with a two-run homer in the first inning and added an RBI single in the ninth. The Cubs also bolstered the position before the game by adding Mike Freeman, their AAA shortstop, to the roster — a 40-man spot available because of Russell’s status.

Where the Cubs and Russell go from here is uncertain.

Where the Cubs go in the NL Central race — now back in front by 2½ games over the Brewers — is their focus, say those left in the clubhouse.

“I was always taught ‘the power of the tongue,’ ’’ said Edwards, who struck out two in a scoreless sixth inning Saturday. “We just have to take it a day at a time. You can’t rush life. … I did tell him in the message that no matter what, you know we got your back. But we can’t really say anything else, because we weren’t there. We don’t know what’s real and what’s [not].”

Schwarber back

After his 0-for-4 return to the lineup Friday from back spasms, Kyle Schwarber was asked when he thought he might have his timing back at the plate.

“Hopefully, tomorrow, right?” he said. “So tomorrow.”

Tomorrow? Batting as the DH again, Schwarber singled, walked and doubled in four plate appearances Saturday.

“I wasn’t lying,” said Schwarber, whose next test is to return to left field, possibly during the upcoming Pirates series at Wrigley Field.

This and that

The Cubs plan to keep Cole Hamels starting on his regular fifth day Monday, pushing Mike Montgomery behind Hamels, to Tuesday.

• Two starts and an extra day of rest since leaving a game early with back soreness, Lester said it’s a non issue. “I’m fine,” he said.

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