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Where will Addison Russell play when he returns?

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It’s not as simple as saying “shortstop.” The Cubs infielder begins a rehab assignment Wednesday evening.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

News item (from Tuesday):

Addison Russell’s suspension, which totaled 40 games, included the final 12 games of the 2018 regular season. With the April 14 snowout, the Cubs will have played 28 games through the end of the series at Seattle next week.

Thus when the Cubs return from their next road trip to face the Cardinals, Russell will be eligible to play Friday, May 3 at Wrigley Field. He’s beginning a rehab assignment Wednesday night. He’s eligible to play in seven I-Cubs games, all at Principal Park in Des Moines, of their nine-game homestand.

When Russell returns, will he immediately be installed as the Cubs shortstop, with Javier Baez moving to second base? Or will Javy, who has started every game for the Cubs at shortstop this year — and who also started 52 games at short in 2018 — remain at shortstop with Russell playing second base?

It could go either way, in my view. You’ll likely recall that Russell started 89 games at second base at the beginning of his big-league career while Starlin Castro was still the Cubs shortstop. In early August, Castro, who had been in a horrific 27-game slump in which he hit .155/.193/.194, was benched and Russell was moved to shortstop. When Joe Maddon put Castro back in the lineup a few days later, it was as a second baseman with Russell remaining at shortstop. Russell has not played a single game at second base since.

It’s one of those “good problems to have.” Both Baez and Russell are superior defenders, no matter which middle-infield position they play. Javy seems comfortable at shortstop; perhaps it would be good to leave him there. Russell isn’t likely to play every day immediately on his return anyway, especially with other infielders (Ben Zobrist, Daniel Descalso, David Bote) on the roster. It’s likely that Mark Zagunis will be optioned to Iowa to make room for Russell on the active roster, with Brandon Morrow shifted to the 60-day injured list to make room for Russell on the 40-man roster.

So what would you do? Leave Baez at short, or put Russell back in the position that had been his for most of the last three seasons? Or, should he have a utility role, with the guys who have played second base so far continue that role?

Please note: This article is not intended to discuss Russell’s suspension, the reasons for it, or whether you want to see him return to the team or not. We will address this soon, sometime before his scheduled return.

Here, I’m simply asking the question that on Russell’s return — which is apparently going to happen — where would be the best position for him to play. I ask that you limit your comments here to this question only.

Poll

Where should Addison Russell play when he returns from his suspension?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Second base
    (337 votes)
  • 18%
    Shortstop
    (242 votes)
  • 55%
    Utility/bench role
    (714 votes)
1293 votes total Vote Now