CHICAGO (CBS) -- In his first public comments since he was suspended for 40 games for violating the league's domestic violence policy, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell apologized to his wife and his team, and said he believes counseling is making him a better person.
"My past behaviors were wrong and unacceptable," he said. "I just want to own that what I did was wrong, and inexcusable, and I'm sorry; sorry for the pain and hurt that I put Melisa through."
Russell declined to discuss specifics of the domestic abuse that prompted his suspension. In December, after their divorce, his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, said Russell had kicked down a bedroom door, ripped their infant son from her arms, grabbed her by the shirt and threw her across the room.
The Cubs shortstop declined to confirm or deny that he had hit or verbally abused Reidy, speaking only in vague terms about hurting his wife.
"I want to own those actions, and I am sorry for the hurt that I have caused Melisa and the pain that I put her through, and I am trying my best efforts to become a better person," Russell said.
Russell said he has a different view of domestic abuse after undergoing league-mandated treatment and voluntary counseling.
"I've had time to reflect, and through counseling, I have a better understanding what domestic abuse really is, and I am committed to my work right now. That's my main focus, and already I see the benefits that come within that with my family and my children," he said.
Russell also apologized to his teammates, coaches, and Cubs brass, saying he had let them down.
"I am accountable for my past actions. I'm not proud of the person that I was, but I do want to own this issue, and take responsibility for the hurt and the pain that I have caused Melisa, and for that I am sorry," he said.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Russell's press conference on Friday was just the first step an effort to prove to the team that he still belongs on the field with his teammates.
The Russell scandal is just one of several the team has faced in the past year.
The team also faced criticism last season for acquiring third baseman Daniel Murphy, because of his past anti-gay comments; and Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the team, recently apologized for a series of emails containing racist comments, jokes and conspiracy theories.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has distanced himself from his father's emails and team president Theo Epstein has denounced the "ugly, disgusting views" Joe Ricketts expressed.
Maddon said he hopes Cubs fans have listened to the team's response to those controversies, and realize the team is "trying to do the right thing among all these different items, whether it was Murph last year, Mr. Ricketts right now, and of course Addison."
"We're just trying to do the right things for everybody involved. We hope that the fans understand that; hope the fans understand second chances are a part of life," Maddon said. "We're working our way through this right now. It's kind of new ground for us, too."
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