Addison Russell’s sloppy play in Saturday’s win elicited plenty of criticism, not the least of which came from Joe Maddon. But unlike when he said he had no regrets about his very ill-advised throw home on July 3, Russell was more than willing to admit his mistakes Monday at Oracle Park.
Maybe a little too willing.
“You have to know the situation in the game and what the score is,” Russell told Jesse Rogers and other media members. “You have to know where the ball is, too, and where the fielders are playing as well. You can’t be too anxious to get to the next base.
“Being aggressive on the basepaths does have its advantages and also its disadvantages.”
Pretty generic admission, right? Well, it would have been had Russell not gone ahead and said the quiet part out loud.
“Also, not missing signs as well,” Russell said. “Stay on top of those. Remind myself, I need to become more familiar with the signs as well. So there’s no gap there. You know exactly what’s being put on so you can do your job more efficient.”
Dude, you need to become more familiar with the signs? That’s just…I don’t even know how to respond to that. It’s completely inexcusable even at the lowest levels of the sport, let alone when you’re earning a living playing the game. And not knowing the signs well or not paying attention to them is one thing, but to admit that on the record is on a whole ‘nother level.
Maddon, whose criticism of his second baseman this past weekend was somewhat out of character, sounded wholly nonplussed when informed of Russell’s admission.
“We just have to keep talking to him,” Maddon said. “We have. We always do…We have to get him to focus consistently. He seems to do it pretty well on defense.”
This is not something a manager should have to say about any player, let alone one who’s in his fifth year in the league. At least Russell is owning it, which is a step in the right direction even if the choice to do so publicly speaks further to his poor decision-making.
But since dragging Russell further would just be gratuitous and unproductive, I want to close by wondering aloud why this is just coming out now. Surely Maddon or someone on his staff should have noticed if Russell, or any other player, was frequently missing signs. And why did Russell not pull one of his coaches aside for a little extra tutelage?
The answer to any and all of those questions is probably a mix of hubris and simply taking things for granted. Russell was likely too proud to seek help and the coaching staff may not have even considered the idea that a veteran player wasn’t familiar with the most basic fundamentals of the game. If that’s even close to accurate, it would explain a lot.
Alas, it’s another chapter in a book you’re probably growing tired of reading. If, that is, you’ve still got it open at all.