Cubs option Russell to Iowa, activate Contreras

Addison Russell was optioned to Triple-A Iowa by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, making room for catcher Willson Contreras to return to the 25-man roster.

Russell was hitting just over .230 since June 1 and was called out by manager Joe Maddon on Tuesday for a series of mental mistakes.

“We really need to get beyond the mental mistakes and the physical mistakes,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday night when Russell didn’t start for the third consecutive game. “We talked about that 100 times. I don’t care. It’s going to happen. It’s not an easy game. … But the mental side, which are the more controllable components. (Our signs) are not complicated by any means. They’re actually very simple. Those are the kind of things that can prevent you from winning, and we’re really harping on and hopefully can get beyond that.”

Russell was not in the starting lineup Wednesday for the fourth game in a row. He said he didn’t take the benching personally, but a demotion to Iowa is a whole new set of circumstances considering where the Cubs have been with Russell for the past several months.

Russell served the final 28 games of his 40-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy at the start of the season. His punishment came after an MLB investigation into domestic violence against former wife Melisa Reidy, who documented mental and physical abuse in a social media post.

Russell, 25, was batting .247 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 55 games this season. His demotion came three days after a rough game against the San Diego Padres when he failed to catch two popups, was thrown out at home plate after a ground ball on the infield and admitted to missing signs.

With Robel Garcia forcing his way into playing time, there’s no guarantee Russell will return to Wrigley Field any time soon.

Contreras, batting .286 with 19 home runs and 55 RBIs before he was hurt, was placed on the injured list with a foot strain. He was in the lineup and batting fifth Wednesday at San Francisco.

“If you have that personality of wanting to get better every single day, you won’t take it personal, which I don’t,” Russell said. “I’m trying to become a better player, a better teammate every single day, to bust my (butt) for the team.”

–Field Level Media

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