Mariners have decided not to retain the ice-cream buying scout

Jesus Montero didn't appreciate the ice cream 'gift' from Bruce Baccala, and neither did the M's. (Getty Images)
Jesus Montero didn't appreciate the 'gift' from Butch Baccala, and neither did the M's. (Getty Images)

Butch Baccala, the high-ranking Mariners scout who angered Jesus Montero by sending Montero an in-game ice cream treat, will be let go by the team, sources said.

Baccala, a national cross-checker with the Mariners at the time of the incident, was sent home after the unseemly incident at a minor-league game, where Montero was rehabbing an injury at the time. While no announcement has been made regarding his status, the Mariners are said to have decided not to have Baccala continue working for the team.

Montero, who was reported to have responded to the surprise “gift” by chucking the ice cream at Baccala in anger, was suspended by the team after the incident and also sent home, missing the remainder of the season.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, reached by phone Sunday night, shortly after the contending team’s 4-0 loss to the A’s, declined comment on Baccala’s status with the team. The Mariners conducted an investigation to determine what happened but apparently aren’t ready to discuss the findings.

Montero, still only 24, has been a disappointment since a fair first year in Seattle following his trade for Michael Pineda. Baccala, a long-time baseball scout said to be 52 in initial reports, was promoted a year ago from West Coast supervisor to the position of national cross-checker. He couldn't be reached Sunday night.

Zduriencik made clear he was taking the incident seriously from the start. “We are extremely disappointed in both of their actions,” Zduriencik said in a story by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma New-Tribune shortly after the late-August incident. “It is unacceptable. This organization does not condone that type of behavior. It is being addressed as we speak.

“There are no excuses for either party," Zduriencik also said at that time. "We have none, and we don’t intend to make any. It’s something that is extremely disappointing and embarrassing for the organization and for those two individuals.”

While the story was that Baccala sent Montero an ice cream sandwich in the dugout after yelling to him on the field to move faster, others with knowledge of the situation insist it was actually an ice cream helmet. In either case, Mariners people were not pleased by the stunt.

According to the original report, from Tyler Maum of MiLB.com, Montero, playing with the Class-A Everett AquaSox while rehabbing a strained oblique in a game against the Boise Hawks at Everett, heard someone yell from the crowd, “Rapido! Rapido!” as he ran off the field after a half inning. The story said it was a cross-checker from Seattle who was yelling to him, and who subsequently sent the ice cream, and that scout was later identified by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times to be Baccala.

According to the initial report, Montero ignored the yelling from the scout in the stands but then reacted after a stadium employee approached him with the frozen treat. Montero, a continuing disappointment for Seattle since his acquisition for pitcher Michael Pineda, was at that point reported to have left the dugout and thrown the dessert at the scout. (Montero’s weight became an issue in spring training, and he likely took the delivery as an insult.) Montero was reported to have been restrained by Aqua Sox coach Nasusel Cabrera and returned to the dugout, though he was taken out of the game at that point.

In an interview shortly after the incident, Baccala told Baker that the episode wasn’t portrayed exactly right. He also suggested at first that he didn’t send an ice cream sandwich, instructing Baker to find out whether ice cream sandwiches were sold at the Everett stadium.

"It's not what is being portrayed," Baccala told Baker. "Of course I wasn't [trying to instigate Montero]. Why would I? I work for the Mariners. I've worked my … off for the Mariners. Why would I do anything to hurt anybody? That wasn't even close to the intention."

Baker called the park and fond out that ice cream sandwiches are indeed sold at the park. But as it turns out, the ice cream in question may actually have been contained in a miniature helmet.

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