Major League Baseball placed Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell on administrative leave Friday afternoon after allegations of physical and emotional abuse were made in a blog post linked to his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy.
“We take it very, very seriously,” said Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the Cubs, adding later, “There’s a process established for this, and we intend to cooperate with the process and let the league do their job.”
This is not the first time M.L.B. has investigated Russell, 24. In June 2017, someone identified as a friend of Reidy’s accused Russell on social media of “mentally and physically abusing” his wife.
Russell denied those claims at the time and played the rest of the season. Reidy, who has a 3-year-old son with Russell, filed for divorce soon after those allegations.
In a statement Friday, M.L.B. said that its office of investigations had looked into those accusations, but that Reidy had declined to cooperate. At the time, her lawyer said Reidy was acting in the best interests of her family.
“Our investigation of this matter has remained open, and we have continued our efforts to gather information,” the league statement said.
It added: “We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible.”
Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, said at a news conference with Ricketts that team officials met with Russell on Friday and that “he reaffirmed his stance he did not do what he’s accused of.”
An Instagram account belonging to Reidy included a link to a lengthy blog post, dated Wednesday. The author of the post used the handle “lifewithmelis,” and accused an unnamed husband, who was also described as “the father of my child,” of infidelity and emotional, verbal and physical abuse. No details about the physical abuse were provided.
“As time went on abusive behavior happened more often in arguments (more so when he was under the influence) & the verbal/emotional abuse grew to new levels,” the blog post read. “Friends would express their concerns with me but I would assure them that I was okay, he lost his temper & wasn’t himself. Everyday began to be a struggle to fake the convincing smile of a happy wife I grew accustomed to.”
It later continued: “Outside looking in, others may and probably will have a lot of negative things to say for sharing my story but after what I’ve experienced, I’m not easily intimidated anymore. I’m giving myself a voice. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, you should not be afraid or ashamed to speak out about any type of abuse regardless who it will offend.”
Epstein said that he believed that the team handled last year’s allegations appropriately, but that the circumstances changed with a firsthand account.
“It would have sent the wrong message to have Addison wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform this morning,” he said.
Epstein said that he contacted M.L.B. officials after he first read the blog post on Thursday night and asked them to verify the claims “because it was so disturbing.” Epstein said he and Ricketts spoke to baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, on Friday morning, and then met with Russell.
“I know him in a baseball context,” Epstein said of Russell, “and I think that one thing that we’ve learned as a society, as we collectively try to wrestle with how to appropriately handle accusations like this, is that it’s important to step back and realize the context and that you don’t necessarily know them fully.”
Since M.L.B. overhauled its domestic violence policy in 2015, eight players have received suspensions, ranging from 15 to 100 games. During the 2016 season, the Cubs traded for closer Aroldis Chapman, who was suspended 30 games that year, and he helped lead them to their first World Series championship in 108 years. Chapman now plays for the Yankees.
With a week left in the regular season, the Cubs hold a narrow lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central standings.
“The timing isn’t ideal, but that doesn’t matter,” Epstein said. “What matters is getting to a just and fair resolution.”
Russell’s production has slipped each season since his All-Star campaign in 2016. He also missed time this season with a finger injury. He is hitting .250 with five home runs and a .657 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage in 130 games.
Jeff Arnold contributed reporting.