Addison Russell placed on administrative leave

September 21st, 2018

Cubs shortstop was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball on Friday following allegations of domestic abuse from his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy-Russell.

On Wednesday, Reidy-Russell, who was married to Russell for nearly two years, published a blog post in which she accused her ex-husband of subjecting her to emotional and physical abuse over the course of their marriage.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts met with Russell at their offices near Wrigley Field on Friday morning. They informed Russell that he was being placed on administrative leave.

MLB opened an investigation in June 2017 after a friend of Reidy-Russell posted a comment describing violence in the couple's relationship on a since-deleted Instagram photo from Reidy-Russell accusing Russell of infidelity. Reidy-Russell declined to speak with MLB as part of the investigation and although Russell was never disciplined, the investigation remained open.

Administrative leave is initially up to seven days and there is a process by which MLB can request an extension of another seven days.

"We were aware the investigation had remained open," Epstein said Friday. "I'd been in touch from time to time with the league's investigative body to get updates and let them know we were fully cooperative to bring it to a conclusion. They assured us that it remained open, and they were doing everything they could. Surprised? Yes, certainly."

Last year, Russell said he didn't physically harm his ex-wife, issuing a statement saying, "Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful."

"We questioned him on it and he reaffirmed his stance that he did not do what he is accused of having done," Epstein said.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he never discussed the allegations last year.

"Addy and I talk about a lot of things," Maddon said. "That was not brought up between he and I personally. I didn't think it was appropriate to attempt to counsel him. He'll seek his own counsel."

Maddon had not spoken to Russell on Friday.

"There's a process involved, there's a process in place," Maddon said.

Epstein did not want to speculate on whether the status of the investigation will change.

"Last year, this was a third-party accusation on social media," Epstein said. "Now this is a direct accusation from the accuser and potential victim so the situation has changed. He was not placed on administrative leave last year. We think this step is appropriate in light of the post. 

"Given the facts last year, I think we handled it appropriately. Given the new information that came to light late last night and early this morning, we are also handling it appropriately. It would not have been appropriate and it would've sent the wrong message to have Addison wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform this morning. We fully support placing him on administrative leave."

Shortly after the allegations surfaced last year, Reidy-Russell and Russell -- who have a 3-year-old son together -- divorced.

"Major League Baseball takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously," MLB said in a statement. "When the allegations against Addison Russell became public on June 7, 2017, the Commissioner's Office's Department of Investigations immediately commenced an investigation. Melisa Russell declined to participate in the investigation at that time. Our investigation of this matter has remained open and we have continued our efforts to gather information.

"With the new details revealed in today's blog post by Ms. Russell, Mr. Russell has been placed on Administrative Leave in accordance with the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy. We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible."

The Cubs issued the following statement:

"We take allegations of domestic violence seriously and support the League's decision to place Addison Russell on administrative leave given new details revealed today. We will continue to cooperate with the League's investigation so the appropriate action can be taken."

Russell, 24, is batting .250 with five home runs in 130 games this season with the Cubs. Later on Friday, he issued the following statement:

"These allegations are completely false. I made that clear to Major League Baseball last year and reiterated it to the Cubs today. I'm confident any full and fair investigation will fully exonerate me. The protection of my children is foremost in my mind so I will have no further comment. "