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Orioles honor late public relations director Monica Pence Barlow in Grapefruit League home opener

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SARASOTA, Fla. — Several Orioles chose to honor public relations director Monica Barlow in their own way in the club’s Grapefruit League home opener Saturday.

Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado as well as manager Buck Showalter, bench coach John Russell, first-base coach Wayne Kirby and hitting coach Jim Presley wore grey armbands inscribed with Barlow’s initials during the game.

“You could feel it in the dugout,” Showalter said. “Everybody was thinking about her today."

Barlow, who had headed the club’s public relations department since 2008, died Friday morning after a battle with Stage 4 lung cancer that lasted more than four years.

In her "last couple days, we talked,” Davis said. “No matter what you do, you just can't prepare yourself for that. I miss her a lot and it's only been a couple of days. But she'll always be here with us.

"I think the biggest thing for me was she was a friend for me, and when you come from a place where everything has been routine for a lot of years, you find out who your true friends are,” Davis said. “And Monica was always there for me, always kept me in check. But at the same time, just made me proud to be who I was and to do what I did."

Jones chose to wear his armband around his hat, to make it more visible.

“I think no matter what we did, she’s in everybody’s hearts right now, everybody’s minds,” Jones said. “We lost a good member of our family, and it’s not easy just to cope with it and let it go. We are going to remember her in great fashion.

"She just helped me a lot with making the right decisions and doing things that not just helped me but helped the team, instead of just doing things just for the sake of doing them," Jones added. "There’s always a purpose behind things, and she helped me out a lot with that."

Before the game, the Orioles held a moment of silence for Barlow and showed a tribute to her on the video board.

Davis said he would like to see the club honor Barlow with a uniform patch or with something on their hats or helmets for the upcoming season, but that would need Major League Baseball's approval first.

"I would like to,” Davis said. “I think it's a good idea to honor her. A lot of people don't understand what goes on behind the clubhouse doors, but those are the people who are really important to us. Anything we can do to honor her, whether it's wearing her initials on a wristband or putting them on our hat, whatever we could do, we'd sure like to do that."

Said Jones: “She was such an instrumental part of our family here in the Orioles. I wouldn't be opposed with it, to be honest with you, for everything [she did] not just ... with the team, but for the individuals.  She’s helped out a lot of individuals with their personal life, also. So to pay tribute, to pay homage any way we do it, would be awesome.”

Asked what Barlow, who shunned the spotlight, would think about the gesture, Davis said: "She probably would have thought it was a terrible idea.

“But that's what I love about her,” Davis said. “She made our jobs easier, and you just can't say enough good things about her."

Showalter said the club is considering several ways to honor Barlow. He said Russell had mentioned to him that the Twins spent their first workout of spring training wearing black “STAND UP TO CANCER” T-shirts. Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan is being treated for neck cancer.

“I know there’s some thought being given to [doing] something during the season,” Showalter said. “I’m sure you’ll see something along those lines. … You’ll see it in some form or fashion, for sure, and quite frankly not just for this year.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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