Melisa Reidy, the ex-wife of suspended Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, approved the team’s decision to keep Russell on the roster for the coming season, president Theo Epstein revealed Friday.
“I was engaged with Melisa … the victim, who deserves our support every bit as much if not more than Addison given the circumstances,” Epstein told reporters at the Cubs Convention, according to Cam Ellis of NBC Sports Chicago. “And she was supportive of our decision as long as it was truly a conditional second chance. She felt like it was Addison’s best chance to get his life in order – to get support from us, with the incentive of earning his way back to the Cubs.”
Major League Baseball suspended Russell for 40 games after Reidy detailed the abuse she suffered during their marriage. While he denied the accusations at first, Russell later issued an apology for his actions.
“He doesn’t deserve to be welcomed back unconditionally or with open arms,” Epstein added, according to Madeline Kenney of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Because he began serving the suspension late last season, Russell remains ineligible to return to the Cubs until May and will start the 2019 season on the restricted list.
The Cubs tendered Russell a contract in November and he avoided arbitration by signing a $4.3-million deal earlier this month.
Although he’s suspended once the season starts, the 24-year-old will be allowed to participate fully in spring training. That’s when he’ll have the chance to show Epstein and the Cubs he deserves this second chance.
The president outlined a road map for Russell to regain his position at shortstop once his suspension is complete.
“If he took accountability for his actions, publicly and privately, which he did, if he became fully compliant with MLB’s discipline plan and treatment program, which he has from day one,” Epstein said. “If it’s a real treatment program, extensive – it’s not token at all. If he sought additional help and did it on his own, finding his own therapist and meeting with them 4-5 times a week, which continues to this day and long after the mandated treatment is over.
“If he had spotless behavior and holds him to the highest possible standards of conduct with himself, his partners, his relationships, and the organization. Then he could earn his way back into playing a game again for the Chicago Cubs.”