Former Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell’s new Korean Baseball team doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that he was suspended for several games by major league baseball for domestic abuse. In fact, the Kiwoom Heroes defended its decision to sign him on Saturday by saying that it didn’t feel as though he did anything all that bad.
Yoo Jee-ho of the Yonhap News Agency reported the team’s defense of Russell is rooted in how long he was suspended by MLB after he was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife. Heroes’ general manager, Kim Chi-hyun, told the paper the team did its due diligence before signing the former Cub. That included talking to his agent, who assured Kim that Russell was suspended over a series of text messages and not actual physical abuse.
“If he had engaged in physical abuse, he would have been banned for 80 games, but he served only 40 games,” Kim said.
“Obviously, what he did was wrong, but we felt it wasn’t bad enough that he should no longer play baseball.”
Russell’s suspension dates back to September of 2018 when Melisa Reidy made the accusation of domestic abuse. He was first put on administrative leave by the Cubs and as ESPN reported in October of that year, Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down the 40-game suspension after doing an independent investigation into Reidy’s allegations.
Russell originally denied he had committed any kind of abuse but issued a statement after the suspension was handed down that said he would accept the punishment and wanted to move on.
After spending the first half of the 2019 season serving his suspension, he was sent to the Cubs’ AAA minor-league club and was eventually called up to the Big Leagues in August. After his recall, he struggled at the plate and on the bases, eventually being sent back down after several baserunning gaffes he blamed on not knowing the team’s signs. He finished the season hitting just.237 with nine home runs and 23 runs batted in and was released by the club during the offseason.
Yoo said Russell will likely be a backup middle infielder for the Heroes as the team has two established stars at second base and shortstop. Those are the only positions the former Cub has played in his major and minor league career. The team said it plans on playing him at his natural positions.
Before signing Russell, Kim told Yoo the team had been in talks with another Major League player, but any chance of a deal fell through. The Heroes were courting outfielder Yasiel Puig but he decided to stay with Major League Baseball.