Cubs infielder Addison Russell leaves game after getting hit in the head with pitch

The 2019 season has not been kind to Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, though much of it was self-sabotage. He served a suspension for domestic violence and then later was sent to the minors following a series of mental and physical mistakes. He came into Sunday hitting .227/.300/.389 with a negative WAR. He did hit a home run Saturday night, but he also had a critical throwing error in the ninth inning. The runner he let on base scored the walk-off run. 

On Sunday, Russell was hit in the head with a pitch (video here). It looks like the ball grazed the helmet and got him in the forehead/eye area and he was holding his eye while laying on the ground. 

He stayed in the game, stole a base and came around to score. The following inning, David Bote was sent to shortstop and Russell was out of the game. The team provided a medical update on Russell after the series finale:

Now, Russell isn’t a strong player, but with Javier Baez dealing with a broken thumb, Russell was the Cubs’ last remaining shortstop. Bote does have some time there, but he’s more a second baseman and third baseman. Also of note: Kris Bryant has been dealing with a knee injury and didn’t start on Sunday because of it, so the infield depth as a whole is being tested. 

The Cubs have said publicly in wake of the Baez issue that Daniel Descalso and Tony Kemp have been taking grounders at short, but neither is a good option and both are having miserable offensive seasons. Ian Happ can play third base when Bote is at short and Bryant is down. Fortunately for the Cubs, Ben Zobrist is back and can take second. They have some depth, but it’s really being tested. 

It seems like the Cubs’ best bet moving forward is to stick Bote at short and hope his lack of range there doesn’t hurt the defense much. 

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