Cubs GM knew giving Russell 2nd chance 'would be unpopular'

Photo of Cubs GM knew giving Russell 2nd chance 'would be unpopular'
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The Chicago Cubs are standing by their decision to give shortstop Addison Russell another chance after he was suspended for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy late last season.

"We knew that it would be unpopular in some ways," general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday, according to ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers. "People have a visceral reaction to reading about what happened. So did we. The more that we worked and talked to experts and worked through it ... we felt like having a conditional second chance was the right thing to do. It was recommended by experts."

MLB suspended Russell for 40 games in September after investigating his ex-wife Melisa Reidy's blog post in which she said the 24-year-old abused her during their marriage. Russell issued an apology in November when the Cubs tendered him a contract.

It was reported in December that the Cubs were doing their "due diligence" after new accusations from an ex-girlfriend emerged, alongside Reidy's more detailed account.

Russell signed a $4.3-million contract to avoid arbitration earlier this month that contains bonuses based on how many days he's on the Cubs' active roster. He'll begin the season on the restricted list and won't be eligible to return from the suspension until May, though manager Joe Maddon hinted Thursday that it's not yet a guarantee Russell will return when the ban is complete.

"The 'if' word is still attached to this entire scenario," Maddon told Madeline Kenney of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Our focus primarily is on him becoming the best human being he can possibly become. And when all that stuff is settled, and all those boxes have been checked and satisfied, then you give him the chance to be the shortstop again."

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