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MLB seeks answers in Russell abuse claims

Cubs shortstop accused of domestic violence on social media
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball will look into allegations of domestic violence made against Cubs shortstop Addison Russell via social media Wednesday evening.

A friend of Russell's wife, Melisa, accused Russell on social media of "mentally and physically" abusing Melisa.

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CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball will look into allegations of domestic violence made against Cubs shortstop Addison Russell via social media Wednesday evening.

A friend of Russell's wife, Melisa, accused Russell on social media of "mentally and physically" abusing Melisa.

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Russell issued a statement Thursday.

"Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful," Russell said in the statement. "For the well-being of my family, I'll have no further comment."

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said they were made aware of the allegations Wednesday night, and that he and manager Joe Maddon then met with Russell. On Thursday, Epstein referred the matter to Major League Baseball. Epstein also told Russell to stay away from the ballpark so he could devote his attention to dealing with the situation.

"Right now this is an allegation by a third party from social media, a serious allegation, and that's why we met immediately with Addison, that's why we referred it immediately to Major League Baseball," Epstein said. "That's why we're taking it very seriously. As of right now, that's what this is. We just don't know -- there's not a lot more we can say."

On Wednesday night, Russell's wife posted on Instagram: "Being free to be able to make your own choices for your own happiness beats being cheated on, lied to, & disrespected any day. #herestonewbeginnings #onlygetsbetterfrom here." That post has since been deleted.

An All-Star last season, Russell, 23, is batting .209 this season and has been sharing the starting job lately with Javier Baez. Russell did not start Wednesday and before the game, Maddon said Russell was "not at the top of his game right now" but added that he expected him to get back on track.

Maddon said Thursday he listened when he met with Russell after Wednesday's game and then wanted to assure the shortstop that the change in playing time was not because he had not lost confidence in him.

"All I wanted him to know from me to him primarily was going into this moment to re-emphasize that I have not lost confidence in him as a player," Maddon said.

Maddon said at times like this, he shifts into parental mode.

"It's a young man who is in a situation right now and he needs to be heard, I need to hear exactly what's going on, and then I have to try to figure out what my advice would be in return, just like I did with [my son] Joey and what I'm doing with my granddaughter Tyler now," Maddon said. "It's no different. You listen. These are young people; we've all been there, we've all been young and made some really dumb mistakes. I don't know exactly what went on. I want to hear about it as it unfolds but I think the most important thing we do as a parent, as a coach, as a manager, is listen first."

Epstein said that in talking to Russell, "his words to me were very consistent with the statement he put out today."

Russell's teammates preferred not to comment regarding the allegations.

"It's way too early to jump to conclusions," Anthony Rizzo said. "I haven't seen Addison or talked to him. I think Major League Baseball will do what it needs to do to get to the bottom of it."

Since MLB instituted its domestic violence policy two years ago, four players have been suspended: Aroldis Chapman, Jose Reyes, Hector Olivera and Jeurys Familia. Each of those situations dealt with a singular incident. This week, Rays catcher Derek Norris' former fiancee accused him of "physical and emotional" abuse in an Instagram post Tuesday. Norris refuted those allegations.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Addison Russell