Although shortstop Addison Russell is under contract, neither his teammates nor his manager are ready to assume he’ll be back on the field.
“The ‘if’ word is still attached to this entire scenario,” manager Joe Maddon said Thursday.
Asked about the importance of getting Russell — who is serving a 40-game suspension for domestic violence — back on the field, Maddon said that’s not the Cubs’ main priority.
“Our focus primarily is on him becoming the best human being he can possibly become,” he said. “And when all that stuff is settled, and all those boxes have been checked and satisfied, then you give him the chance to be the shortstop again.
“I don’t even know where that’s going to be until we get to camp.”
Ian Happ said the team is focusing on baseball and not on Russell’s off-the-field problems.
“He’s got a lot of work to do before he’s back with us,” Happ said. “As long as he keeps doing what he needs to do to get himself back on a personal level, then it’s our job as teammates to welcome him back and have him be a part of our family.”
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Chairman Tom Ricketts said that the choice to keep Russell wasn’t easy, but the Cubs felt it was the right call.
“We decided the better thing for the player and his family was to kind of help him ride it out and let him do what he has to do to improve and to make sure the situation never happens again,” Ricketts said on ESPN-1000. “We feel like it’s the better answer to everyone involved to not just wash our hands of it.”