A shaken sport sent prayers and well-wishes to retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who on Tuesday remained in intensive care at Massachusetts General Hospital after being ambushed and shot in his native Dominican Republic.
Former teammate Pedro Martinez was moved to tears during a broadcast on MLB Network discussing the Sunday attack on Ortiz, affectionately known as Big Papi.
“I don’t have enough words to describe who David is, what David means to baseball. But I’m so disappointed to know that someone like David . . . can have someone after his life,” Martinez said, pounding the desk with his fist and reaching for a tissue. “It hurts me. It hurts me.”
“He’s a dad and my heart goes out to Alex and D’Angelo [two of Ortiz’s children] and his wife and the rest of his family,” former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said, fighting back tears. “It’s a very scary thing that something like that can happen so easily.”
“He’s like a big brother and a dad at the same time,” added Boston outfielder Mookie Betts.
The Red Sox, for whom Ortiz now works as a special assistant, held a “moment of reflection, thought and prayer” Monday night before Boston faced the Texas Rangers.
As the teams stood on either baseline in front of their dugouts, Fenway Park public address announcer Henry Mahegan said that “wishes for a speedy recovery have poured in from all over baseball, from the world of sports and even from respected world leaders.
"He is loved throughout our nation and beyond, yet to us, he is our own adopted son.”
Red Sox players said Ortiz’s condition overshadowed the game. During Manager Alex Cora’s pregame news conference, all of the questions were about Ortiz, not the ballgame.
“He’s a superhero without a cape,” said Cora, Ortiz’s teammate in Boston for parts of four seasons. “He’ll be back in the clubhouse with that big smile and that huge heart.”
“I felt it a little bit,” said Chris Sale, who pitched seven innings in Monday night’s loss (via MLB.com). “You’re talking about a guy who’s put a team and a city on his back basically his entire career and you want to be able to pick him up when you can. Obviously we’re thinking about him. We had a meeting before the game about it. He’s as much a part of this team as anyone has ever been.
“Yesterday was a tough day, and today, too. We’re obviously glad he’s doing well and he’s back here and in good hands. So we’re just hoping for the best and trying to get some wins for him. I know that would make him happy that’s for sure.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely tough,” Boston reliever Matt Barnes said. “We understand we have a job to do and to go out there and win ballgames. He’s always going to be with us and be part of it — good, bad or indifferent. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where there’s not much we can do to help right now except stay positive for him and his family.”
The Red Sox chartered an air ambulance to transport Ortiz from the emergency clinic in Santo Domingo to Boston. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital via police escort.
“We have offered David’s family all available resources to aid in his recovery and will continue to keep them in our hearts,” the team said in a statement Monday.
Doctors expect he will make a full recovery, his spokesman, Leo Lopez, told ESPN.com.
Former president Barack Obama wished Ortiz well in a tweet. Dominican President Danilo Medina tweeted that he spoke with Ortiz before he left for Boston.
“With the help of God, we hope for his speedy recovery, as well as that of” Jhoel López, Medina wrote. Lopez, a Dominican television host, who was also injured in the attack.
Tiffany Ortiz, the ex-ballplayer’s wife, thanked Red Sox leadership and the medical staff who treated her husband in a Tuesday statement, along with fans and colleagues who have sent well wishes.
“I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and love that we have received during this incredibly difficult time,” she said. “We ask for privacy as David work towards recovery.”
Many tributes for Ortiz, who was born in Santo Domingo and became an American citizen in 2008, included mentions of his role as the face of sports in New England after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
At a game in which emergency personnel and law enforcement members were honored, Ortiz took the microphone, wearing a new home uniform that said “Boston” across the chest rather than “Red Sox,” and rallied the crowd.
“This is our f------ city,” he said, as cheers erupted from fans, “and nobody is going to dictate our freedom.”
“We all remember in 2013 when we needed David Ortiz the most, he was there for us,” Red Sox president and chief executive Sam Kennedy told reporters. “It’s appropriate and expected that this community would rally around David when he needs us the most.”