"He's actually a really competitive kid," Hoyer said on the McNeil & Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon. "So I think saying he's not focused ... on winning, I wouldn't go that far. But certainly, the mental mistakes, we can't have. Not knowing signs is something we can't have. There are real things to be worked on, for sure. But I definitely feel like Addison cares a great deal."
Russell was demoted Wednesday after he had struggled from a physical and mental standpoint on the diamond recently. He was hitting .247 with six homers, 16 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 55 games and had made a series of mental mistakes recently. Those troubles have included baserunning gaffes, an acknowledgement that he doesn't know the signs at times and miscommunications defensively.
Russell missed the first month of the season as he finished serving a 40-game suspension for violating the league's joint domestic violence policy. Hoyer maintained there was "nothing off the field that was alarming" about Russell to his knowledge recently, but he simply wasn't getting it done from a performance standpoint.
"On field, it didn't feel like he was engaged enough in certain moments," Hoyer said. "He obviously missed some signs and had some mental lapses, and those are things that can be tightened up."
"That's certainly the plan," Hoyer said. "Like I said, he's down there for a reason. He's down there to work. I do feel like he has a role on the team. He's a great defender. I think what we can do late in games with him on defense is really special. And we have a belief that this guy's ceiling is incredibly high. But obviously, 2019 so far has been frustrating for him."