“I said at [the Cubs] Convention we were at the top of the second inning with this process,” Epstein said of the “conditional second chance” Russell has been given, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “As we get here this week to start spring training, we’re probably in the bottom of the second inning. We still have a long way to go.”
Russell is on a non-guaranteed contract that allows the Cubs to cut him for a small fraction of the value during camp. He was given a “conditional second chance” by the Cubs after his ex-wife, Melisa-Reidy Russell, publicly shared allegations of domestic abuse in September.
The 25-year-old shortstop will sit out the first 28 games of the regular season to complete his suspension, though he will be the first prominent player to return to his old team after a lengthy suspension for domestic violence.
Epstein acknowledged the Cubs are taking steps to “enhance” their domestic violence training and bring more awareness to the subject.
“We’ve taken this plague of domestic violence to heart,” Epstein explained, per ESPN. “We’ve really stepped up and enhanced our training. By the time spring training is over, every single employee in the organization will have gone through enhanced domestic violence training. Every major league player, every major league coach, every major league staff member.
“Every minor league player, every minor league staff member [and] every member of the front office will have gone through a pretty rigorous domestic violence training program to increase education and awareness.”
Epstein also addressed some of the backlash the Cubs received from fans after deciding to allow Russell to return to Chicago, promising fans the organization is taking the situation seriously.
“I can pledge to those people, we are taking this on earnestly, that’s it’s important to us, that they’re not just words, they are actions,” Epstein said. “We’ll continue to hold Addison to an incredibly high standard or he won’t play a regular-season game as a Chicago Cub ever again.”