The Seattle Mariners announced today that Jesus Montero has been suspended for the remainder of the 2014 season. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Friday that Montero would spend the fall focusing on "off-field" issues.
Montero had been on a rehabilitation assignment with the Everett Aquasox in the short-season Northwest League. He was involved with an altercation with Mariners cross-checker Butch Baccala last Thursday in Boise. Montero had been coaching first base and was heckled by Baccala while on the field. Baccala then sent Montero an ice cream sandwich in the dugout, an apparent attempt to shame Montero about his issues with weight and physical conditioning. Montero reacted by grabbing a bat, throwing the sandwich at Baccala and charging the scout in the stands.
Said Zduriencik, ". . .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." In addition to Montero's suspension, Baccala has been sent home.
Once one of the top prospects in baseball, Montero played 135 games with the Mariners in 2012, hitting .260/.298/.386, but did not play regularly for Seattle in 2013 and 2014 due to defensive problems, injuries, and a 50-game suspension for involvement with Biogenesis. His hitting in the majors has been disappointing but he is still just 24 years old and has been having a good season in Triple-A, hitting .286/.350/.489 with Tacoma until his recent oblique injury.
This is one of the strangest stories from the minor leagues in some time. Montero's behavior is obviously unacceptable, but a scout heckling his own player from the stands and pulling a stunt like sending the ice cream sandwich to the dugout is simply bizarre.