But little consideration was given to the role that social media â rather than law enforcement â might play in bringing potential domestic violence cases to light, according to a person in baseball familiar with the drafting of the agreement who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The first five cases Major League Baseball investigated under its new policy had evidence that had already been generated by law enforcement or video. In the cases of Norris and Russell, there was none.
This means baseballâs investigators must discern whether the allegations on social media are credible. And though players, under the terms of the new policy, are required to cooperate with those investigators, they may be wary of saying anything that could prompt an investigation by the police.
âIndividual players should be cautious,â said Sharlene Boltz, a professor at the Chase College of Law at the Northern Kentucky University. Though the players may have an interest in cooperating, their personal counsel or a union representative âhas to be thinking, âWill this be used against me? Is it discoverable?ââ
Norris told The Tampa Bay Times that he planned to âgo above and beyond to assist M.L.B. with their investigation.â
Eck, who did not respond to an email request for an interview, has been cooperating with baseball investigators, but the women involved in Russellâs case have not, according to a person familiar with the case who was not authorized to speak publicly about it. Thomas Field, an attorney for Melisa Russell, who has subsequently filed for divorce, said she would not meet with baseball investigators âat this time.â
He added that âthe reason for not now is she doesnât believe itâs in the best interest of her son and her family.â
M.L.B. investigators have also asked to meet with Melisa Russellâs friend, who made the accusation that Addison Russell had hit his wife, but she has not responded to emails or phone calls.
The cases involving Russell and Norris somewhat mirror those involving the N.F.L. players Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys and Jamison Crowder of the Washington Redskins, in which women posted photos on social media showing injuries they said were caused by the players.
In Elliottâs case, it led to the disclosure of a previous police report. But neither player was disciplined by the N.F.L.
That women have turned to social media to make these statements is a sign that younger people view the medium as a community, and it also underscores the primary objective of abuse victims, according to those who have studied domestic violence.
âTheyâre not looking for revenge, theyâre looking for an end to the abuse,â said Kim Gandy, the chief executive of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. âThereâs a lot of conversations about what are the alternatives for victims who are not looking to have their husband or boyfriend go to jail for five years.â
By turning to social media, she added, victims may also be hoping that pressure from peers, or even employers, will stop the abuse.
âYou take your chances that if you have a few hundred friends on social media, that at least some of them will pipe up,â Gandy said.
But the world of sports is vastly larger. Sharing on social media not only makes a case very public, but it also enables fans who adore their athletic idols to harass those making the accusations, said Margaret Duval, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.
Still, Duval said, âthe good side of the double-edged sword is there are people who reach out in support, resources can be offered, and there can be a sense of liberation in not holding on to a secret.â
In her post on Instagram, which has since been deleted, Russell wrote: âBeing able to make your own choices for your own happiness beats being cheated on, lied to, & disrespected any day. #herestonewbeginnings #onlygetsbetterfromhereâ
In a lengthy post on her blog, which detailed the episode of which she had accused Norris of abuse, Eck wrote, âI hope multiple women can read this and get out of controlling situations, abusive situations and mentally and physically draining situations.â
Boltz, the law professor, said public expressions like these on a subject that can be personal and stigmatizing are rare among older people.
âFor my parentâs generation, or even my generation, thereâs hesitancy in what we let out,â she said. âFor myself, as a professor of millennials, theyâre a little more relaxed in what they let out. Thatâs a generational thing: How this present social media plays into decision making, how do I express myself, how do I solve my problems?â
For Major League Baseball, it is no different, making a sometimes complicated and delicate issue even more so.