MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs are taking steps to "enhance" their domestic violence training and awareness in the wake of shortstop Addison Russell being suspended for 40 games late last year after violating the league's domestic abuse policy.
Russell will be a full participant in spring training but will sit out the first 28 games of the regular season to complete his suspension. In the meantime, the Cubs are making sure their entire organization is better educated on the subject.
"We've taken this plague of domestic violence to heart," team president Theo Epstein said Tuesday from spring training. "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."
Russell's ex-wife, Melisa-Reidy Russell, went public with allegations of domestic abuse in September. The 25-year-old shortstop is the first prominent player to return to his old team after a lengthy suspension for domestic violence.
"We're probably in the bottom of the second inning," Epstein said regarding the issue. "We still have a long way to go. Addison is well aware he's been given a conditional second chance by this organization."
Epstein acknowledged some fans still aren't happy with the team's decision to bring back Russell, but the organization believes it's doing more good than harm, including reaching out to local organizations that deal with domestic violence as well as staying in touch with Russell's ex-wife.
"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."