Addison Russell speaks publicly for first time since suspension

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell didn't go into specifics about what led to his 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic abuse policies, saying instead, "I do want to own this issue and take responsibility."

"These past few months have been a productive few months," Russell said Friday from Cubs camp. "I've been doing the league-mandated treatment, and also participating in voluntary counseling as well.

"Through that counseling, I have learned to better identify my feelings and emotions, learning how to handle adversity and challenges whenever I'm faced with them."

Russell took questions from reporters for about 20 minutes, speaking publicly for the first time since the league suspended him last September after his now-ex-wife, Melisa-Reidy Russell, documented domestic abuse allegations in a blog post. Russell didn't deny those allegations on Friday, although he did claim his innocence before being suspended last season.

"I know there's been a lot that's been said and reported these few months," Russell said. "I don't want to get into any specifics, but what I do want to say is, I am accountable for my past actions. I'm not proud of the person I was. But I do want to own this issue and take responsibility for the hurt and the pain I have caused Melisa. And for that, I am sorry."

Russell's suspension officially is for violating MLB's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. He will serve the final 28 games of his suspension at the beginning of the season as long as he continues on a path of rehabilitation.

The Cubs are describing it as a conditional second chance. The team is also mandating "enhanced" domestic abuse counseling for the entire organization this spring while reaching out to local organizations that deal in domestic violence.

"I know that I'm still early in this process, and through this process, I realize that I have let a lot of people down," Russell said. "I've let Cubs fans down, my organization, my teammates, my family and also myself. I'm doing everything in my power to become a better person, father, teammate, partner and provider."