BOSTON (CBS) — As they reflected on everything David Ortiz has meant to the city of Boston and beyond, members of the Red Sox were still clearly shaken Monday afternoon at Fenway Park. It had been roughly 20 hours since news started to trickle in that Ortiz had been shot at a club in his native Dominican Republic, but the sting was still fresh.
Ortiz is in serious but stable condition after six hours of surgery following the shooting Sunday night. He is in the process of being transported to Mass General Hospital, with the Red Sox flying a medical air ambulance to Santo Domingo early Monday. Ortiz has since been cleared to leave the Dominican and continue his treatment in Boston. He is expected to arrive in the city sometime Monday night.
Boston manager Alex Cora, who was teammates with Ortiz in Boston from 2005-08, says the team is remaining positive and sending their prayers to Ortiz and his family.
“My thoughts and prayers for David and his family. It hasn’t been easy,” said Cora. “One thing about David, he’s strong, has no fear and he’ll never show weaknesses. Because of that reason, the Lord will be with him. For us that believe, just pray for him and keep your positive vibes. This guy is, I’ve always said he’s bigger than life, that vibe that David brought in on a daily basis. He’ll give you a hug or a big smile — he does that with everybody.
“It’s been a tough one. I just hope when he gets here everything is fine and we can see that big man again with us, filling a room with joy,” said Cora.
Cora, Boston’s owners and Dave Dombrowski met with the team Monday afternoon to update players on the situation. He said they’ll find a way to play with a clear mind on Monday against the Texas Rangers, but it won’t be easy.
“We’re going to stay positive and keep praying,” said Cora. “They talk about superheroes without capes. That’s how we see him.”
Former Red Sox captain and current special assistant Jason Varitek fought back tears as he spoke about Ortiz in the Boston locker room on Monday.
“He’s Big Papi; a big man and a great human being. Not only for being a great player but playing the game right,” said Ortiz’s longtime teammate.
“This is… Excuse me. He’s a dad,” Varitek continued, fighting back tears. “My heart goes out to Alex, D’Angelo, his wife and the rest of his family. It’s a very scary thing that something like that can happen that easily.”
Red Sox pitcher David Price had plenty of battles with Ortiz on the diamond before arriving in Boston. He was only Ortiz’s teammates for one season, but understood his impact on the city before he donned a Red Sox uniform.
“Everyone in here and in this city understands the way that he treats people, it’s second to none. Our thoughts and our prayers are with his family and we look forward to seeing him again,” said Price. “The way that he treated everybody, he may not know your first name but he’ll act like you’re best friends for a long time. We all have a ton of respect and a ton of love for Big Papi.”
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy thanked fans near and far for reaching out with their support of Ortiz, and said the team’s focus has been on getting Ortiz back to Boston.
“David Ortiz is probably the most beloved and one of the most important players in our history. The face of multiple World Series championships, active in the community. You’d be hard pressed to find someone more beloved than David,” said Kennedy. “We all remember in 2013 when we needed David Ortiz the most, he was there for us in late April. So it’s appropriate and expected that this community would rally around David when he needs us the most.”
In the days after the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013, Ortiz made it clear that the city of Boston was united. It’s a message that continues to echo even though Ortiz no longer swings a big bat for the Red Sox. Kennedy didn’t want to speak for Ortiz, but knows he’s grateful for all the support that has poured out over the last 24 hours.
“Knowing David, we can all imagine what he’d be saying to Red Sox fans and his supporters,” said Kennedy. “I know he’s fighting and we hope and pray this will all be behind us.”