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Russell to miss NLCS with hamstring injury

Shortstop could return if Cubs advance to World Series; Baez to assume starting role

CHICAGO -- Cubs rookie Addison Russell will not be available for the National League Championship Series because of a hamstring injury suffered in Game 3 of the NL Division Series. Javier Baez will get the start at shortstop.

Russell injured his left hamstring when he tripled in the fourth inning, and suffered a moderate strain.

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"Addy, right now, will not participate in this next round," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Thursday before a workout at Wrigley Field. "If everything plays properly and we have an opportunity to play another round, he might be available at that time -- but for sure, not this one."

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The Cubs did not want Russell to try and rush back and possibly re-injure his leg. In four postseason games, Russell is 3-for-12.

"He's such a mature kid," Maddon said of the 21-year-old. "The conversation was easy -- he understood, he got it. For me, as a manager, to put a guy in a situation where he could get hurt even worse is a bad place to be."

In his first start in Game 4 on Tuesday, Baez hit a three-run home run in the second inning off the Cardinals' John Lackey. He played most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, missing the month of April to be with family after the death of his sister, Noely. He was sidelined with a broken finger after a headfirst slide, and played 70 games at Iowa, batting .324 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles and 61 RBIs. Then as a September callup with the Cubs, he hit .289 with one homer and four RBIs in 28 games.

Video: [email protected] Gm4: Baez crushes three-run shot for the lead

"The thing about Addison is he's played enough here to know he belongs here and can do this," Maddon said. "I want to believe that Javy is arriving at that same point. I think the three-run homer in a playoff game like that against one of the best pitchers in the National League should boost your confidence. The big thing out of him, too, is consistency on defense. We have to catch the ball. Pitching and catching is really important to us. I know he can do that."

The Cubs, who will add another player to the NLCS roster, were considering their options on Thursday. One option could be adding Quintin Berry to give them a speedster off the bench. The decision will be influenced by who the Cubs play in the NLCS as well.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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