SAN DIEGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon presented Addison Russell with a bottle of wine on Tuesday as a token of appreciation for his play in the series opener. Maddon hopes to give the shortstop a gift later this season if Russell wins a Gold Glove for his defensive play.
"He's definitely got to be in the conversation, legitimate conversation," Maddon said of Russell. "This guy on defense, it's getting to the point where there's no one else like that right now."
Russell has been dazzling but not everyone felt that way when the 22-year-old was voted as the starting shortstop for the National League All-Star Game.
"I know prior to that, him being selected, that was an issue, and I'm so proud of him and how he came out and confronted it in his own way and very quietly and in a distinguished manner," Maddon said. "I also believe that event has catapulted him to where he is now."
Russell leads all NL shortstops in RBIs with 82.
"I'm very pleased and proud with his progress," Maddon said.
Russell, who hit his 19th home run on Tuesday, could easily have more if the wind favored the hitters at Wrigley Field.
"He could easily have 20-plus [home runs] without that wind blowing in," Maddon said. "His numbers are impacted at Wrigley based on the conditions."
And the wine? Maddon gave all of the players a bottle of Justification from Justin Winery as a gift after a charity event, and Russell told the manager how much he liked it. On Tuesday, Maddon was at a wine store in the Gaslamp district, and found a better bottle, Justin Isosceles.
"There was no more perfect day than what happened yesterday, and I wrote '6-3 -- enjoy it,'" Maddon said.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.