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Russell: My words are 'coming from the heart'

Cubs infielder clarifies comments in Thursday's Sun-Times story
@MLBastian
May 10, 2019

CHICAGO -- The response that Addison Russell received from the Wrigley Field crowd in his season debut earlier this week was mixed. There were plenty of boos with some applause mixed underneath, and Russell knew that would be the case when his name was announced for the first time this

CHICAGO -- The response that Addison Russell received from the Wrigley Field crowd in his season debut earlier this week was mixed. There were plenty of boos with some applause mixed underneath, and Russell knew that would be the case when his name was announced for the first time this year.

And Russell is understanding of how any fan feels he or she wants to react to his return to the field.

"Everyone's entitled to doing whatever they want to do," Russell said prior to Friday's game against the Brewers, "thinking whatever they want to think, saying whatever they want to say. The reaction to me, I feel like, I have to respect that. My actions are what they are, and I've got to be responsible for them."

Russell rejoined the Cubs on Wednesday following a brief stint in Triple-A Iowa and the completion of a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Domestic Violence Policy. The infielder held a lengthy press conference with reporters that day and has continued to make himself available for interviews -- in one-on-one or group settings -- over the past few days.

One of Russell's quotes in a Sun-Times story on Thursday did not sit well with some fans.

"I'm a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs," Russell was quoted as saying. "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."

During a nearly 10-minute session with media on Friday morning, Russell clarified his comments.

"When I have to speak, it's just coming from the heart," Russell said. "What I want to say is I respect the fans for whatever they think. They're definitely entitled to that. It's just the way that I have to be out on the field, it's a completely different thought process than what the fan thinks. I have to deliver. I have to focus. So the fans may not like it, but I have to do what I have to do."

Russell noted that he continues to have multiple discussions with his personal therapist each week to deal with off-field situations, as well as elements of his return to the Cubs. That will include upcoming road trips, during which Russell knows he will encounter more media interviews and potentially negative responses from fans in different cities. He said he is prepared to answer questions and block out the noise.

"I totally understand. This is a serious issue," Russell said. "What can I do? Get better day by day. That's all I can do. And be the example of a person that's trying to make things right."

Worth noting

• Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his role with Russell right now is simply to be his manager, and also a friend. Maddon noted that he typically chats with players in the dugout. The skipper said the same holds true with Russell right now, and Maddon said they had a good conversation on Thursday.

"I just try to get the temperature, see where he's at," Maddon said. "I hug him. I hug him and I encourage him to go out and try to do the right things, try to make good choices. That's what I was talking to him about [Thursday]. Before the game even began, we talked. And that was it. My message to him yesterday was about making good choices moving forward and that, as he does that, he's going to really enjoy his life off the field, as well as on the field."

• Veteran second baseman Daniel Descalso has been out of the starting lineup (but available as a pinch-hitter) for the past six games due to a sore left ankle. Maddon said he is currently weighing whether to add Descalso back to the starting mix on Saturday or Sunday.

"He's doing well," Maddon said prior to Friday's game. "I'm being very cautious putting him back out there tomorrow. I'm still debating tomorrow or Sunday to get him back out, but he's doing well. He's making a lot of progress."

Quotable

"I didn't like either one of those acquisitions. Like, I don't like [Paul] Goldschmidt being in St. Louis. When they got both of those guys, I didn't like it. I'm a big [Lorenzo] Cain fan from Kansas City. I saw him well there, too. And [Christian] Yelich in Miami, my God, I mean, you could see this guy is a superstar. So those are great acquisitions, and to put them one-two in the batting order changes the entire tenor of the game for them, absolutely." -- Maddon, on the impact Cain and Yelich have had on the Brewers

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.