The Cubs announced Thursday that Addison Russell had been reinstated from the restricted list, having served his 40-game suspension, and that they had optioned him to Triple-A Iowa.
To make room on the 40-man roster, Brandon Morrow was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. Morrow was placed on the IL during spring training retroactive to March 25, so the first day he’d be eligible to return would be May 24.
Earlier, Theo Epstein had stated that this move was being made for baseball reasons:
“There have been some real promising signs with his play. Six games just isn’t enough to get fully up to speed to come up to the big league club,” Epstein said Tuesday.
In addition, Theo said Russell had been making “progress” in his off-the-field rehab as well.
I’m writing this article primarily to make a record of the official roster move, as well as to reiterate my opinion that I think in the long run, it would be best for Russell to move on to another team, both for the player and the ballclub. Of course, Russell has minimal trade value at this point, so the stint at Iowa might be one that the team wants to have in order to increase that value. It was stated Tuesday by Theo that Russell would be there for “weeks,” not “days,” and there’s really no clear indication what that means.
I will say that sometime soon, it would be good to get a true backup shortstop on the 25-man roster. Javier Baez has played all but two innings of all 28 games the Cubs have played this year, and that’s worked out because of all the off days the Cubs have had so far.
But now the team enters a period where they will play 26 games in the next 27 days. That’s a grind for any ballplayer. Right now David Bote is the Cubs’ backup shortstop, and he doesn’t have much experience at the position — 41 games at various levels in the Cubs minors, and three MLB games over the last two years, only one as a starter.
I am also writing this article to call attention to the allegation made via Twitter over the weekend that the Cubs had somehow threatened retaliation against media members who wrote articles critical of Russell. Earlier, Theo Epstein had told beat writers who were in Seattle:
“However you guys want to cover the story,” Epstein said. “If you want to write critical articles about Addison or the club’s handling, you’re more than welcome to. We believe in the freedom of the press. This is certainly an issue where we expect there to be strong opinions and people have the right to have those opinions and express them however they want.
“We support that. We would never try to stifle freedom of the press or that type of free expression. I saw that story out there. I’m not calling it into question other than to say the threat of reprisal to a media member about any topic, but especially one of this nature, is not acceptable. I’d be really surprised if that happened at the Cubs, and if it did I’d want to know who it was because they wouldn’t work for the Cubs much longer. That’s a fireable offense to try to threaten a media member because of unfavorable coverage, especially on a topic of this nature.”
And Thursday, Cubs VP of communications Julian Green addressed this issue on 670 The Score:
The Cubs continued to shoot down the story Thursday when vice president of communications Julian Green went on the team’s flagship station, WSCR-AM 670, to deny what he called “explosive allegations” that were not “corroborated.”
“I have raised this with the editors-in-chiefs at the papers in this town because it’s not the first time this has happened,” Green said on the “Mully & Haugh Show.” “But it’s the first time something egregious like this happened.”
Green did not provide any examples of media members from either Chicago newspaper claiming retribution for something they had written about the team or the organization.
From my point of view, I have written numerous stories on this topic, as has Sara Sanchez, on this site. You can read all the Russell suspension-related stories in this StoryStream. The Cubs have always treated me fairly and have never once said anything about what Sara or I have written about Russell. I hope that Green’s statement is the end of this issue.
Regarding Russell’s future, we’ll just have to see what happens going forward.
Lastly, I know many here have strong opinions on this topic. I ask only that you keep your commentary civil.