During his charismatic Major League Baseball career, David Ortiz was known as much for his smile and huge persona as he was for his bat and clutch performance. Opponents loved him off the field, feared him on it during his 14-year career with the Boston Red Sox.
Now the entire baseball community is pulling for him after he was shot and seriously injured on Sunday night in his native Dominican Republic.
According to his family, Ortiz is out of surgery and recovering following the shooting outside a popular club. Leo Lopez, the slugger’s media aide, told ESPN on Monday that Ortiz was in intensive care but his condition was stable.
“Doctors say he is out of danger, but he is heavily sedated and will be in intensive care for the next 24 hours,” Lopez said.
Lopez added Ortiz’s surgery lasted six hours and was performed by three surgeons who had to remove part of his intestines and colon as well as his gall bladder. He also suffered some liver damage.
“Doctors say that David is out of danger, thank God,” Ortiz’s father, Leo Ortiz, told ESPN. “What they have told me post-op is that the doctors believe he will recover quickly.”
Reports indicate that Ortiz was sitting at a table on a patio and drinking with friends when he was ambushed and shot in the right side by his assailant, who was tackled, beaten by the crowd and later identified as Eddy Feliz Garcia.
Garcia, 25, got off a motorcycle and shot Ortiz point blank in the back at the Dial Bar and Lounge. Apparently, a second assailant is still at-large.
Garcia suffered a cranium contusion and trauma to his thorax, left knee and right leg. He was treated at the Dario Contreras Hospital in Santo Domingo and then released to police custody.
Investigators do not know if Ortiz was the intended target or just an innocent bystander. Two others were injured in the shooting.
According to ESPN, Dionisio Soldevila, a reporter from the Dominican who hosts a radio show, spoke with the first respondent who treated Ortiz. The bullet completely passed through his body. According to Soldevila, Ortiz told his doctors, “Please don’t let me die. I’m a good man.”
Ortiz is apparently a regular in the area where The Dial Bar is located.
The Red Sox issued a statement late Sunday: “Late last night we were made aware of an incident involving David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic. David’s family has confirmed that he sustained a gunshot wound to the lower back/abdominal region. David is being treated at Clinica Abel Gonzalez in Santo Domingo where he is recovering after surgery. We have offered David’s family all available resources to aid in his recovery and will continue to keep them in our hearts.”
During his career, Ortiz made 10 All-Star teams and was a member of Boston’s three World Series champions before retiring in 2016. He was named World Series MVP in 2013. Ortiz is still a special advisor for the team and was in Boston a few weeks ago in Boston.
Of all the things Ortiz did during his stay in Boston, none was more memorable than his public comment in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Speaking on the field at Fenway Park during a pregame ceremony to honor those impacted by the incident, Ortiz yelled, ‘This is our f—–g city!’ which drew a loud and long response from the crowd.
The love other players and teams had for him was clear as the Red Sox moved from city to city in his final season. He was greeted with tributes and gifts at every stop. He retired with a .286 batting average and 541 home runs, including 38 in his final season.
His time in Boston was also highlighted by his charitable work. He established a children’s fund that raised millions to help those with heart ailments in New England and his homeland that couldn’t afford treatment. He also donated his time to the Jimmy Fund and Boston’s renown Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Among those reaching out to Ortiz on Twitter were Pedro Martinez and Alex Rodriguez.
“I’m at peace knowing you out of danger; you a strong man Compai, can’t wait to hear your voice,” tweeted fMartinez.” My thoughts and prayers are with you, see you soon.”
“Anxiously waiting for more news,” tweeted Alex Rodriguez, the former New York Yankee. “In the meantime, only prayers for @davidortiz, Tiffany and their family.”