Cubs promote highly touted prospect Addison Russell
PITTSBURGH (AP) The Chicago Cubs had a plan for Addison Russell that didn't include bringing up the 21-year-old infielder in April.
Then Russell tore through spring training and two weeks at Triple-A Iowa. When the guys ahead of him on the major league roster faltered, the Cubs threw away the old plan and drew up a new one.
Meet Addison Russell, big league ballplayer.
The Cubs called up their touted prospect on Tuesday and thrust him immediately into their starting lineup. Russell was set to play second and bat ninth against Pittsburgh.
''I think it's a good thing for me that is going to push me, and I'm looking forward to it,'' Russell said Tuesday, less than 24 hours after going 2 for 4 for the Iowa Cubs in a win over Oklahoma City.
Russell was the centerpiece of the trade that sent pitcher Jeff Samardzija to Oakland last summer. The 11th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Russell hit .318 with four doubles and a home run for Triple-A Iowa. He was just as solid in spring training, batting .317 in 13 games before being sent down.
A shortstop throughout his minor league career, Russell is in the process of learning how things work at second base. The Cubs are ready to remain patient while Russell works things out with both his bat and his glove.
''I'm not worried about handling success, how do you handle failure?'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''I think he can. We think he can. Part of it is need right now, the fact that is open and the fact we think he can handle it right now.''
Russell is the second prospect to be called up by Chicago in the last week. Third baseman Kris Bryant is hitting .429 in four games and had three RBI in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday.
With Russell joining Bryant in the everyday lineup, the Cubs are moving closer to the future they have so painstakingly planned during a painful rebuilding process. Maddon, hired over the winter to guide the perennial losers back to prominence, is eager to get started but knows there will be bumps along the way.
''Theory and reality are kind of coming together,'' Maddon said. ''Now they have to go out there and play. It's one thing to look good on a piece of paper. It's another thing to go out there and perform. I have a lot of faith in this group. They are going to perform.''
Chicago transferred third baseman Mike Olt to the 60-day disabled list and optioned infielder Arismendy Alcantara to Triple-A.