GM Theo Epstein takes a couple of swings at Cubs’ bad behavior

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein criticized emails from the patriarch of the family that owns the team and said Addison Russell won’t play for Chicago again unless he meets the team’s high expectations while completing his domestic-violence suspension.

Splinter News published emails last week that included Joe Ricketts making Islamophobic comments, such as “Islam is a cult and not a religion.” Others included conspiracies about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and education.

Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized for the emails. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts last week said in statement that his father’s emails don’t reflect the values of the Cubs.

“The emails were upsetting to read, and especially upsetting to think that some of our fans were put into a position where they had to consider their favorite team and some of those types of views,” Epstein said in Mesa, Ariz.

Russell accepted a 40-game suspension last year for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy after a series of allegations made by his ex-wife. He will be eligible to return in early May, barring postponements.

“I stayed in good contact with Addison,” Epstein said. “Addison is well aware that he has been given a conditional second chance by this organization. There are a lot of standards we are going to hold him to. He has to continue to put the work in to be a better person, a better citizen, better teammate, better member of society, better father.”

DeGrom sets deadline: NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom wants to hear the Mets’ best pitch on a multiyear contract by Opening Day — and the team thinks that’s a good call, too.

New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who was deGrom’s agent before switching sides at the bargaining table in the fall, told reporters at spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., there’s “no reason for a distraction to carry into the regular season.”

That leaves about six weeks to get a deal done before the Mets’ season opener March 28 at Washington. However, deGrom cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season, so the sides could reopen negotiations next offseason.

Last month, the Mets and deGrom agreed to a $17 million, one-year contract to avoid arbitration — a record-setting raise of $9.6 million over his 2018 salary.

Tanaka wants to hit: Masahiro Tanaka wants to keep on hitting and running the bases at National League ballparks, hoping use of the designated hitter does not spread to the NL.

The Yankees’ pitcher missed a month last season after hurting both hamstrings while running the bases during a June 8 game against the New York Mets.

The players’ association has proposed extending the DH to the NL, a plan Commissioner Rob Manfred says is too complex to consider for this year.

“I did get injured, but when you look at it, I grew up where baseball was played by nine guys, meaning basically the pitcher would hit also, and I really enjoyed that baseball,” the Japanese pitcher said Tuesday through a translator at New York’s spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.

May day return for Ohtani? The Angels hope Shohei Ohtani recovers from Tommy John surgery in time to join their batting order by May.

The AL Rookie of the Year had the surgery Oct. 1 to repair a torn ulnar-collateral ligament in his right elbow. The first player to hit 20 homers and make 10 pitching appearances in the same season since Babe Ruth, Ohtani is not expected to pitch this year but the Angels would like to have his bat in the lineup.

“We’re thinking May, sometime in May, but that’s assuming everything goes well,” new manager Brad Ausmus said in Tempe, Ariz. “This is new territory. We’re dealing with a guy who DH’s on a regular basis and is a starting pitcher.”

Ohtani has been swinging without hitting a ball. He has yet to hit off a batting tee, Ausmus said.

Briefly: Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter are teammates again, years after winning world titles together with the Yankees. Posada reportedly will be joining Miami’s front office as a special adviser to Jeter. Jeter is entering his second season as the Marlins’ CEO. … In arbitration news, left-hander Alex Wood asked a panel for a $9.65 million salary and Cincinnati argued the newly acquired pitcher should be paid $8.7 million. A decision is expected Wednesday, when rulings also are likely for pitchers Trevor Bauer (Cleveland) and Gerrit Cole (Houston). … Outfielder Eric Young Jr. agreed to a minor-league contract with the Orioles and will report to major-league spring training. Young, 33, hit .202 with one home run and eight RBIs in 41 games for the Angels last year.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/GM-Theo-Epstein-takes-a-couple-of-swings-at-13611916.php.

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