On Thursday, Addison Russell said that if Cubs fans want to boo him “then that’s on them.” A day later, the second baseman shifted, saying he has “nothing but respect’’ for them.
“Basically, everyone’s entitled to do whatever they want to do, think whatever they want to think, say whatever they want to say,’’ he said before Friday’s Cubs-Brewers game at Wrigley Field. “The reaction to me, I feel like, I have to respect that. My actions are what they are, and I have to be responsible for them.”
He was asked if his “that’s on them” comment to the Sun-Times on Thursday had been a criticism of the fans who booed him Wednesday night, when he made his 2019 debut after serving a 40-game suspension for domestic abuse.
“No. No,’’ he said. “I have nothing but respect for the fans. It’s a goal to get the respect of my fans back, of the Cubs fans back. So having said that, it’s just out of respect for them. I have nothing but respect for them.
“I just wish that it could be on different terms, you know? Just continuing to get better. I know that it’s not always going to be good.”
His tone had sounded different in an interview with the Sun-Times on Thursday.
“I’m a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs,” he said. “I’m one of the dudes in this clubhouse. I’m one of the guys who goes out there and puts his [body] on the line. We do it because we love it. We want to win, and we want to bring another championship to Chicago. And if hometown fans want to boo someone that’s trying to help bring the team a World Series again, then that’s on them.”
He said he has received support from some fans.
“That’s the stuff that makes the day flow a little bit better,” he said. “Like I said, I don’t listen or read a lot into what’s going on off the field really about these issues. I keep everything kind of in-house. But, yeah, definitely there’s a positive side and a negative side of things.”
Does he understand why some fans are booing?
“Totally understand,” he said. “It’s a serious issue. And what can I do? Get better day by day. That’s all I can do. And be the example of a person that’s trying to make things right.”
The Cubs hit the road for six games, in Cincinnati and Washington, after this weekend series against the Brewers. That means opposing fans in the seats. It means out-of-town media in the clubhouse. It means more questions and, likely, some boos.
“I’m dedicated to this,” he said. “It is what it is. Like I said, putting in the good work to face this stuff and talk about it. I think sometimes it can be a little overbearing, but at times, whenever you feel like things are weighing in on you, all you just have to do is be vulnerable and let things come in and you get kind of a nice release from it.
“So, having said that, I know there’s going to be a lot of challenges ahead. Just own up to it and speak the truth and let the good come out. Just let all see that I am getting better.”