Cubs keep sus­pended short­stop Rus­sell

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Sports - BY RON­ALD BLUM

Speedy out­fielder Billy Hamil­ton and 2017 All-Stars Avi­sail Gar­cia and Jonathan Schoop be­came free agents when they were among 43 play­ers cut loose by teams that failed to of­fer 2019 con­tracts, but the Chicago Cubs hung onto short­stop Ad­di­son Rus­sell de­spite his 40-game do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sus­pen­sion that ex­tends un­til May.

Cubs pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions Theo Ep­stein called the de­ci­sion a pro­ce­dural step and said it “does not rep­re­sent the fin­ish line nor rub­ber-stamp his fu­ture” with them.

“It does, how­ever, re­flect our sup­port for him as long as he con­tin­ues to make progress and demon­strates his com­mit­ment to these im­por­tant is­sues,” Ep­stein added Fri­day.

Rus­sell ac­cepted the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions made by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy. Though Rus­sell has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, he apol­o­gized to Reidy and his fam­ily for “my past be­hav­ior.”

“Since ac­cept­ing my sus­pen­sion, I’ve had time to re­flect on my past be­hav­ior and think about the next steps I need to take to grow as a per­son,” Rus­sell said in a state­ment is­sued by the Cubs.

Rus­sell said he will meet reg­u­larly with ex­perts and coun­selors man­dated by his treat­ment plan. He also plans to keep work­ing with his own ther­a­pist, whom he has been see­ing sev­eral times a week for two months.

“I am just in the early stages of this process,” Rus­sell said. “It is work that goes far be­yond be­ing a base­ball player. It goes to my core values of be­ing the best fam­ily man, part­ner, and team­mate that I can be, and giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity and the less for­tu­nate.”

Teams had a Fri­day evening dead­line to of­fer con­tracts to un­signed play­ers on their 40-man ros­ters, the last chance to re­lease salary ar­bi­tra­tionel­i­gi­ble play­ers at no cost.

Hamil­ton, 28, hit .236 with four homers and 29 RBIs for last-place Cincin­nati as his stolen bases dropped to 34, and the Reds did not want to pay the raise he would get in ar­bi­tra­tion from his $4.6 mil­lion salary. He swiped 56 bases in 2014 and in­creased his to­tal by one an­nu­ally in each of the next three sea­sons.

Gar­cia was lim­ited to 93 games last sea­son for the White Sox be­cause of dis­com­fort in his right knee that led to surgery in Oc­to­ber, and his bat­ting av­er­age dropped from

.330 to .236, too much of a de­cline for Chicago, given the $6.7 mil­lion he won in ar­bi­tra­tion last Fe­bru­ary.

Schoop spent his en­tire ca­reer with Bal­ti­more be­fore Mil­wau­kee ac­quired the sec­ond base­man at the July 31 trade dead­line for sec­ond base­man Jonathan Vil­lar and two prospects. Schoop hit .202 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 46 games for the Brew­ers, then was 0 for 8 in the post­sea­son. He made $8.5 mil­lion.

Oth­ers set free in­cluded Bal­ti­more third base­man Tim Beck­ham and catcher Caleb Joseph; Detroit catcher James McCann and pitcher Alex Wil­son; Los An­ge­les An­gels pitcher Matt Shoe­maker; Min­nesota out­fielder Rob­bie Gross­man; Oak­land pitch­ers Mike Fiers, Cory Gear­rin and Kendall Grave­man; New York Mets in­fielder Wilmer Flo­res; Philadel­phia first base­man Justin Bour; and San Fran- cisco pitcher Hunter Strick­land.

Among play­ers who agreed to one-year con­tracts ahead of the dead­line were Min­nesota first base­man C.J. Cron, who hit 30 home runs for Tampa Bay, then was claimed off waivers. He got a $4.8 mil­lion deal.

San Fran­cisco reached agree­ments with re­liever Sam Dyson at $5 mil­lion and sec­ond base­man Joe Panik at $3.85 mil­lion.

Oth­ers agree­ing in­cluded Cleve­land righthander Danny Salazar ($4.5 mil­lion), Los An­ge­les Dodgers left-han­der An­thony Cin­grani ($2.65 mil­lion), At­lanta left­hander Jonny Ven­ters ($2.25 mil­lion) and Oak­land right-han­der Liam Hen­driks ($2.15 mil­lion).


Sus­pended short­stop Ad­di­son Rus­sell has been of­fered a 2019 con­tract by the Chicago Cubs.

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