Addison Russell and the Chicago Cubs don't believe the 2016 All-Star has become a completely changed man since his ex-wife accused him of physical and emotional abuse.
When Russell's suspension was first announced, some Cubs fans expressed a desire to see Russell traded or released before he played another game for the team. When he came up to bat in the bottom of the third, there were boos and also some claps. Last week, Theo Epstein said before the team's series in Seattle that Russell would not be immediately back once his suspension was over.
The Cubs had originally planned to recall Russell next week but moved that up after infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist went on the restricted list Wednesday to take an indefinite leave for undisclosed personal matters.
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When speaking about Russell and Zobrist, Manager Joe Maddon said "you don't run away quickly because something has gone awry". It sounded like plenty of those fans were on hand for Russell's 2019 debut.
"I'm here. I know that they're going to think and say whatever they want to say, and they're entitled to that", Russell said of those who think he shouldn't be with the team anymore.
Russell was once considered one of baseball's top young infielders. With Javier Baez entrenched as the team's shortstop, Russell will fill in at second base.
In December 2018, after their divorce, Russell's ex-wife, Melisa Reidy said Russell had kicked down a bedroom door, ripped their infant son from her arms, grabbed her by the shirt and threw her across the room. The post was later deleted. And he accepted the suspension on October 3.