"This year kind of threw me for a curveball," Russell said. "I wasn't expecting any of this to happen. Go back nine weeks, and once I started getting a feel for it back in Double-A with the Texas League teams, then I get traded. It's all about overcoming the boundaries and that's what I've been doing."
Russell was slowed at the start of the season with a right hamstring injury but recovered to bat .333 in 13 games with Midland before he was dealt. In 50 games at Double-A Tennessee with the Cubs, he batted .294 with 12 home runs, 11 doubles and 36 RBIs.
His new Tennessee teammates helped him make the transition.
"They told me to relax," Russell said. "It was my first time traded. I was trying to take it all in, and they told me to relax."
Russell already knows some of the Cubs' top prospects. He was on the same Arizona Fall League team as Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler last fall, and will play for the Mesa Solar Sox again when the season begins Oct. 7. Almora sent Russell a text message congratulating him on joining the Cubs after the trade was completed, and Bryant welcomed him on Twitter.
"Once I figured out I was going to be on the Cubs, it was awesome because I could be part of something very special," Russell said.
He does play shortstop. So does Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, which creates a logjam for the Cubs. Russell said he'll play wherever the Cubs need him.
"I'm a person that if you put me in a new environment, I'm going to learn about it," he said. "They haven't said anything about me moving, but if that's the case, so be it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.