Cubs' SS situation gets tricky with Russell injury

September 8th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs' shortstop situation was already complicated in the wake of losing Javier Baez to a hand injury. Another setback arrived on Sunday, when was hit in the head by a pitch from Brewers starter Adrian Houser.

In the third inning of the Cubs' 8-5 loss to the Brewers, Russell was hit in the helmet by a 94 mph fastball from Houser at Miller Park and initially remained in the game, only to exit in the bottom of the frame with David Bote replacing him at short. With Baez out due to a hairline fracture in his left thumb, and Russell now sidelined for the time being, utility man Bote is the Cubs' top option at the position.

"It's, as they say, suboptimal," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Chicago announced that Russell sustained a nasal contusion (bruised nose) and was under evaluation for concussion symptoms. The shortstop was not permitted to speak with reporters, but he was cleared to join the team for its flight to San Diego for the upcoming four-game series with the Padres. Russell will be re-evaluated prior to Monday's game at Petco Park.

Houser's heater sent Russell to the dirt and the Cubs' interim shortstop was tended to for several minutes by members of Chicago's medical and training staff. A team doctor for the Brewers joined the conversation at home plate, and Russell went through a series of physical tests and concussion tests on the field before heading to first base.

"On the field there, when I first went out there, he was visibly upset, obviously," Maddon said. "But then I think he found out it was an, 'I'm OK,' kind of a thing. And then by the time he got down to first base, he was adamant that he felt like he was good. And I saw the same thing."

Russell then stole second base on Houser's next pitch to Bote, who started the game at third base in place of Kris Bryant (right knee soreness). Russell came around to score on a single to right field by Bote before being replaced in the home half of the frame. Bote moved to shortstop and Ian Happ entered the game as the third baseman. Ben Zobrist is next on the depth chart at short.

"That was on his own on the steal. I did not tell him to steal second," Maddon said. "That was pretty cool. And the fact that he rallied us at that point was outstanding, and when he came back in, they just wanted to take a better look at him, so we got him out of the game at that point."