Epstein: 'No finish line' on Russell's return to Cubs

Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein said the team will go "day-to-day" and wait to make a determination on suspended shortstop Addison Russell until after he plays his seven rehab games in the minors.

The Cubs could keep Russell in the minors by optioning him to Triple-A after his 40-game suspension for violating the league's joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy is over.

"We're taking this day-to-day," Epstein said Thursday before the Cubs played the Los Angeles Dodgers. "This is one situation where it is not appropriate to get ahead of the story. Addison has a lot of work to do going forward. There is no finish line here."

Epstein was asked if keeping Russell in the minors after those seven games is an option.

"Of course it is," Epstein said. "I told him seven days does not necessarily get someone ready for the season."

The Cubs will move Russell around the diamond, as his primary position is being filled by Javier Baez, who's off to a hot start at the plate and in the field this season.

Instead of moving Baez back to second base, Russell will get a lot of reps at the position in the minors. He made his major league debut playing second base in 2015, but the Cubs chose not to play Russell there during spring training this year.

"We were trying to get him on his feet, settled in," manager Joe Maddon said. "The fact that he was going through a lot emotionally, we didn't want to add another layer to that whole situation for him."

Russell has been undergoing league-mandated counseling after abuse allegations from his ex-wife came to light late last season. Epstein didn't want to go into details on how the Cubs are monitoring Russell's growth, but Epstein has been involved.

"If you ask the people in Addison's life, you would see there have been some positives that have come out of this thus far," Epstein said, "and his behavior to this point has lived up to the standards we're requiring of him."

Russell was working out in Arizona and playing in extended spring training games before he joined Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday.

He said Thursday that he is focused on "trying to become a better person."

"It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of self-reflecting and a lot of self-growth,'' Russell said of his time away from the game. "They have a high standard for me, and as we are right now, I think I've hit all those standards. I'm just working on myself.''

Russell was scheduled to start at shortstop and hit third for the Iowa Cubs on Thursday. He received a largely warm reception in his debut Wednesday -- in which he singled and scored two runs against Nashville -- but it is unclear how he will be received in Chicago.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I really have been putting up some great work on trying to become a better person,'' Russell said. "... I'm just excited to get a second chance.''

Of a possible move back to second base, Russell said, "Everyone knows that I'm willing to play another role."

The Cubs could also trade Russell before his suspension is over. The Toronto Blue Jays dealt Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros with just days left on his suspension last season.

"He's going to be down there for seven days, and then we'll make a determination for what's best for the organization," Epstein said. "Nothing is promised."

Epstein also indicated that closer Brandon Morrow is still undergoing tests after he was recently shut down in his return from elbow surgery.

"We're still in the diagnostic state at this point," Epstein said. "He's undergoing some tests. We think that he's going to resume pitching at some point."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.