As he nears his return to the active roster, Addison Russell made a rehab start with the Iowa Cubs in Memphis Monday night. Batting third in the order in his first live action since August 2, Russell drove the first pitch he saw (video) out to deep right-center for a double. He went from 2-0 to swinging strikeout in his second at-bat, then flew out to center in the top of the 5th before being lifted for Elliot Soto in the bottom of that inning.
Don’t worry, though, it was a planned substitution. The Cubs had said heading into the game that they wanted to get their shortstop three at-bats and as many as six or seven innings in his first go-round. Though they haven’t said so specifically, it figures that they’ll ramp Russell back up and then activate him when rosters expand at the end of the week.
If I had to guess, I’d say he plays two more AAA games and then comes back up to rejoin the big club on Thursday before making a Friday start. What a luxury it’s been for Joe Maddon and the Cubs to be without a keystone player like that for nearly a month and almost not noticing it. Between Javy Baez, Tommy La Stella, and Ian Happ, the middle infield has been just fine.
DV investigation “ongoing”
Amidst all the other hubbub of the season, things have been oddly quiet when it comes to MLB’s as-yet-unresolved investigation into allegations of domestic violence leveled against Russell in the comments following an Instagram post. That was back in early June, yet here we are in late August with nary a word on the topic.
As Gordon Wittenmyer reported, the investigation is still “ongoing,” though no information about it appears to have reached the Cubs. Russell’s estranged wife issued a statement a couple weeks after the allegations had surfaced saying that she would not accept MLB’s interview request, which seemingly left any proceedings dead in the water.
Whether that’s the case or the commissioner’s office is following up on other leads remains to be seen, but the silence has been a little strange. Then again, it’s not as if this is a legal case in which we’ve got constant media coverage and press conferences from the limited parties involved. And outside of the quickly-deleted IG post, there’s not a whole lot out there to follow up on.
“I’m sure there is a thoroughness that’s the standard that they have,” Scott Boras, Russell’s outspoken agent, said back in July. “There may be more that they want to look into. I know from our standpoint there are very few people involved. There’s been no support for the foundation to support any of the claims made, and immediately the next day the (social media post) was erased.”
I have a feeling this is one of those things that’s going to resolved quietly, if there’s any further noise made at all.
Same Grimm, different day
Justin Grimm traveled to Memphis along with Addison Russell to rehab his “infected finger” and he promptly got right back to the business of giving up home runs. Entering in the 6th inning of a 1-1 game, Grimm ran up a full count on the first batter he faced before surrendering up a bomb.
To be fair, said hitter was prized prospect Tyler O’Neill, who now has 27 dingers on the season. And it might not even have been a big deal under other circumstances. But when the longball has plagued Grimm so thoroughly this season, giving up another one right off the bat — pun fully intended — isn’t a great sign.
The lanky righty did manage to strike out the next two batters he faced, both swinging and presumably on curveballs (MiLB Gameday doesn’t track pitches), so that’s good. That homer, though, man…that just won’t do. You can’t trust a pitcher with such a profound propensity for permitting opponents to park it in the yard.
I’ve always been a big proponent of Grimm’s, but I just don’t see a place for him on the 25-man. Though he’ll almost certainly be reactivated when rosters expand, I’d really like to get a look at what Dillon Maples can do at the highest level.
More news and notes
- There are a gang of DL activations going on here at the end of the month or by September 1; here’s who’ll be back by Friday, if not already:
- Max Scherzer
- Jayson Werth
- Clayton Kershaw
- Cody Bellinger
- Joey Gallo
- Matt Harvey
- Brett Anderson will have his contract purchased by the Blue Jays and will take the bump Tuesday against the Red Sox. His pitching opponent: Chris Sale.
- Jeff Samardzija has cleared revocable waivers and can be traded, though a deal doesn’t seem all that likely. The Cubs are among eight teams that are exempt from his no-trade clause, so we can start some rumors if we want to.
- The Giants have apparently expressed the strongest interest in Giancarlo Stanton, who would be on pace to break the home run record if I was writing this 20 years ago. It’s kind of a weird situation for the incoming ownership group, though. On one hand, you have the kind of transcendent player who can maybe get some folks to remove their seat costumes. On the other, a trade could net a slew of prospects that would improve the team’s future outlook.