This is one of the weirdest stories I've ever heard coming out of the Mariners organization, but after the offseason "dysfunction" debacle, hardly anything comes as a surprise anymore.
From Tyler Maun at MiLB.com comes the full story of what we heard rumblings about last night. Jesus Montero was with Everett, about to start a rehab assignment in his return from an oblique injury. Though he wasn't playing tonight, he was coaching first base and was heckled by what was apparently a member of the Mariners organization, a cross-checker (scout that oversees other scouts). The cross-checker yelled at Montero to hustle (more specifically, yelled "Rapido! Rapido!") as Montero headed back to the dugout. Then, the cross-checker ordered an ice cream sandwich, sent it to Montero in the dugout as a taunt of his weight. From what has been reported, Montero went towards the stands with a bat, spit at the heckler, threatened him, and threw the ice cream sandwich back at him.
This is surreal in every sense of the word, the least of which is Jesus Montero getting mad at somebody being what appears to be a huge dick to him.
There are so many questions and attempted conclusions to make that I can't do anything but number them.
- Jesus Montero was coaching first base, which seems weird for somebody on a rehab assignment, but it's apparently quite common for the level. The thought of Montero, one of the worst baserunners in recent memory, molding young minds on what to do on the basepaths is hilarious.
- If Montero wasn't in the game, that means there was no natural reason for him to have a bat in his hands before approaching the stands, which makes this even worse. He went and grabbed one. Even if you empathize with Montero for reacting like that, there is going to be some repercussions for that, and should be.
- How does one order an ice cream sandwich into the dugout, and who is completing this task for the cross-checker?
- How bad is the organization's view of Montero? Is this cross-checker just an asshole, or are there multiple people in the organization who view Montero in such a poor light that they find it acceptable to taunt their own players? If the people around the cross-checker knew he worked for the Mariners, wouldn't they have stopped him from taunting? This is a minor league game, though. Perhaps many cheap beers were consumed.
- This has to be the end of that cross-checker's career with the Mariners organization. The Mariners are going to have to address this more specifically -- so far they've only given the requisite "we're looking into this matter" response -- but the obvious action will be to fire him.
- It's reasonable to wonder if Montero knew who this instigator was, and if they had a history. Montero has surely been heckled relentlessly through the minor league season, as he's a well enough known prospect that other cities, if not Tacoma, had to have lobbed fat jokes at him all year long. For him to break like this at somebody so specific makes you wonder if Montero knew this guy worked for the M's organization.
SEATTLE, Wash. - Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik issued the following statement today regarding an incident that took place during last night's game between the Everett AquaSox (Seattle's short-A affiliate in the Northwest League) and the Boise Hawks (the short-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs):
"I received a call last night at approximately 9:30 pm informing me that there had been a verbal altercation between Jesus Montero, who was on rehabilitation assignment with the AquaSox while recovering from a strained oblique, and Mariners national cross checker Butch Baccala, who was scouting at the game.
"As soon as I received the call, I began trying to ascertain exactly what had occurred. I spent last night and this morning speaking with everyone involved.
"Although our investigation is not yet complete, I want to provide this update.
"First off, it is clear that both Jesus Montero and Butch Baccala engaged in behavior that is far below what we expect from members of our organization, including bad judgment at nearly every stage of this incident.
"I want to apologize on behalf of the Mariners franchise to the Boise Hawks and their fans. We recognize that fans, including children, were impacted by this incident, and the language that was used. We recognize the severity of this incident, and want to assure the Hawks and their fans that it will be dealt with appropriately. In addition, I want to thank Todd Rahr, president and general manager of the Boise Hawks, for his assistance in helping me ascertain what occurred last night.
"Jesus Montero has been recalled from his rehabilitation assignment and is on his way to Seattle. Butch Baccala has returned to his home in the Bay Area where he will remain until further notice.
"We will issue further information when it is appropriate as we deal with this unfortunate incident."