Addison Russell’s estranged wife has declined to meet with Major League Baseball officials, a development that could significantly hinder the investigation into an abuse allegation made against the Cubs shortstop.
Thomas T. Field – the partner at Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove LLP representing Melisa (Reidy) Russell in divorce proceedings – confirmed that decision two weeks after a third-party accusation on social media triggered MLB’s domestic-violence protocols.
“I haven’t heard anything” new from MLB, Russell said, surrounded by reporters at his locker after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. “It’s been sticking out for a while now. I just want to get back to baseball.”
Through Facebook, WGN’s Dean Richards surfaced a press release from a local marketing firm that announced Melisa hired Field and filed for divorce in Cook County. The statement said: “It is her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties’ son,” hoping for closure in a “swift, amicable and private fashion.”
After his wife publicly aired their marital issues on Instagram – and a woman believed to be one of Melisa’s close friends made the explosive charge in a comment beneath the photo – Russell released this statement through the team: “Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful.”
That Instagram post was quickly deleted as it drew more and more attention from fans, media and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who notified MLB on June 8 as part of a process that largely leaves the matter out of the club’s hands. The Cubs gave Russell that night off and told him to stay away from Wrigley Field, allowing him to collect his thoughts and explicitly framing it as not being a one-game suspension.
In these types of cases, the collective bargaining agreement grants broader disciplinary powers to commissioner Rob Manfred, even without an arrest or a prosecution. But an alleged victim’s cooperation would be crucial to the investigation.
Russell is 23 years old and coming off an All-Star season where he helped the Cubs win an epic World Series and end the 108-year drought. But from Epstein’s measured tone to manager Joe Maddon’s listening mode to the calculated comments in the clubhouse, the Cubs projected the right image, focusing only on what they know about Russell as a player, not rushing to judgments or dismissing the seriousness of the situation.
“Definitely not ignoring it,” Russell said. “I have the right support system. I have a lot of fans out there that are definitely making me feel better about the whole process. But when it comes down to it, I love playing baseball. I absolutely love this game. Whatever happens on the field, I’ll take care of it.”