SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are wearing orange Lungevity T-shirts at batting practice today to honor late public relations director Monica Pence Barlow, who passed away Feb. 28 after a prolonged battle with Stage IV lung cancer.
The shirts read:
Find it. Treat it. Live.
In memory of Monica
A contingent of about 30 Orioles, including manager Buck Showalter, executive vice president Dan Duquette, players and staff flew into Virginia Friday evening to attend a gathering of family and friends. Photos of Monica filled two long tables.
“We respect the process and we respect her family,” said center fielder Adam Jones. “She’s part of our family, so we’ve got to show face. Credit goes to Peter Angelos. He set the whole thing up. Everyone gives him flak about not doing this and not doing this. This is the true Peter Angelos, taking care of his family.
“This is my team. She was our head PR lady. There’s no way in hell I’d miss this. She taught me many, many things - how to carry myself as a professional athlete, as a man and how to handle myself in this business. Even if Peter didn’t set this up, I would have probably set something up to go up there.”
The team arrived back in Sarasota around 10:45 p.m.
“I don’t think this was someone’s first time in their lives that someone passes, but it’s different when it’s not your immediate family,” Jones said. “When it’s still a part of your family, it’s still not easy to process. You’ve just got to, I guess, use her name and remember it in a good way.”
Showalter said the evening “went as well as could be expected.”
“I’m glad we went,” he said. “I’m really proud of the players. It was tough for everybody. I don’t think they realized. It’s the Shenendoah Valley. Great place, salt of the earth. It was at the church where her father was the minister.
“A lot of people came down from Baltimore. They’re actually going to stay for today. I wish we could’ve. I’m glad we went, but it was tough. A pretty good celebration of Monica. Her mom told a lot of stories. They’ll be back in April. We haven’t decided what day. We’re going to honor her. Really appreciative of Mr. Angelos providing transportation. That was pretty big.
“You know there was no such thing as a photo she liked. I brought a couple with me that she would’ve really been upset about. I wanted to make sure her mother saw that one (from the Winter Meetings). With our players going, in that community, they’ll talk about the visit. It will be something that keeps people talking about Monica for years to come.
“Our guys would’ve drove up there if we let them. It was more a case of we had to turn some guys away because we didn’t have room on the plane. I don’t think they fully realize the impact their visit had on her memory for people around that area. I wish we could stay today.”
Meanwhile, Showalter confirmed that he spoke to Duquette earlier today regarding free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana, but that’s as far as he would go on the topic.
Santana reportedly is seeking a one-year deal for around $14 million. One report stated that an agreement had been reached with an American League club. If so, it’s not the Orioles, according to a source.
Asked if he had any sense of the Orioles’ involvement in talks with Santana’s agent, Showalter grinned and said, “I have a sense, yeah.”
“I think everybody is talking about him to some extent,” he added. “I don’t know how (scouting director) Gary Rajsich would feel about it. It opens up some interesting possibilities that you don’t have before. You can go outside the box with some real projectable (players). Creates some interesting possibilities for imaginative minds.”
Update: Santana has reached agreement on a one-year, $14 million contract with the Blue Jays, according to Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes. But Enrique Rojas only confirms that the Blue Jays made the offer.
Showalter also said pitcher Miguel Gonzalez should make his next start after being hit on the left shin yesterday. Gonzalez would take the mound on Tuesday at the latest.
“Right now, the plan is for him to go right back in,” Showalter said. “Probably Tuesday. I think that’s what I heard them say today. Dave (Wallace) is going to play with it a little bit and see how he is tomorrow. He might even go in earlier than that.
“Richie (Bancells) said if there’s such a thing as hitting it in the right place, he did. When you hear tibia involved, ... I don’t think Gonzo would agree with that. We didn’t dodge a baseball. It was swelling in a hurry when I got out there. I don’t know if you noticed, but I went real slow. I’m not in a hurry to get out there for those things.
“We’ve had two or three, actually four hits on the foot. It makes you realize from the dugout that you’re a pitch away from the dynamics of everything changing. Fragile. We shouldn’t be at that point yet where you just want guys to get out of camp healthy. You’ve got to play the games.”
Gonzalez will have a work day before making his next appearance in a game.
“Other than throwing more pitches, he got hot down in the bullpen,” Showalter said. “He went out here. He got the more important things, with the exception of getting stretched out a bit. We’ve got time with that.
“He’s had some physical challenges in the past. We missed significant time with him last year. We’d really like to have him out there every fifth day, so were hoping that’s something we can get behind us in the spring.”