Cubs' Addison Russell denies domestic violence accusation

Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell on Thursday denied an accusation of domestic violence against his wife amid a Major League Baseball investigation.

In a post on Instagram, Russell's wife, Melisa, accused her husband of cheating and implied that the couple was breaking up. A comment related to the post from someone Melisa Russell identifies as a close friend accused the player of physically abusing his wife.

During Wednesday night's Cubs game against the Marlins, in which Addison Russell did not play, Melisa Russell posted a photo of herself in a bathing suit in a body of water. The text read: "Being free to be able to make your own choices for your own happiness beats being cheated on, lied to, & disrespected any day. #herestonewbeginnings #onlygetsbetterfromhere" The post and subsequent comment have since been deleted.

"Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful," Russell said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. "For the well-being of my family, I'll have no further comment."

Russell, 23, was given the day off Thursday and was not with the Cubs for their game against the Colorado Rockies. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Russell would be held out of the lineup as the investigation plays out.

"Last night, we were made aware of a serious claim posted on social media about Addison Russell," the Cubs said in a statement Thursday. "We reached out to Major League Baseball and, following the protocol established by MLB, will fully cooperate with the Commissioner's Office as it gathers pertinent facts. Addison will not be in uniform tonight to allow him to work through this matter."

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press that the department "does not have any current investigation" into Russell or allegations of domestic violence. Spokesman Patrick Courtney says MLB is looking into the situation.

Maddon said he spoke to Russell on Wednesday night and then "just listened" as he sat with Russell and president Theo Epstein.

"There's not a whole lot for me to know. There really isn't," Maddon said. "All I wanted him to know from me to him is primarily going into this moment to re-emphasize I have not lost confidence in him as a player."

Maddon also said the team got together as a group "so the guys, if they wanted to say or ask anything, they could."

Epstein said Russell's comments to him after Wednesday's game were "very consistent'' with the statement he issued. Epstein added that the Cubs also reached out to Melisa Russell, although he would not provide any more details on that.

Reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant said he was surprised to hear about the allegations.

"Yeah, I think anytime you hear something like that, it is shocking," Bryant said Thursday. "... I want to be a good teammate. Always want to be there to help. Addy is going to find a way to handle it. Like I said, we are all going to learn from it, hopefully be better for it.

"We don't know what happened. I don't know what's happened. It's early. ... It is just unfortunate."

In 2015, the league and the players' union agreed to a new, more rigorous domestic violence policy. Former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended 30 games under the policy last season. Mets closer Jeurys Familia, infielder Jose Reyes and Braves outfielder Hector Olivera have also received lengthy suspensions under the policy.

After an All-Star season for the championship Cubs last season, Russell has struggled this year. Entering Thursday's play, Russell was batting .209 with 3 home runs and 19 RBIs, and his errors are up.

Javier Baez has been seeing more time at shortstop, including the start Thursday night. Russell started at shortstop in 141 of the 148 games he played last season. Baez made 21 starts at shortstop all of last season, but Thursday night marked his 13th already this season.

ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Michele Steele and the Associated Press contributed to this report.