Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz is recovering from surgery after being shot at a club in his native Dominican Republic on Sunday, according to police.
Ortiz was shot in the back by a motorcyclist who approached Ortiz outside the Dial Discotheque in Santo Domingo, Felix Durán Mejia, a spokesman for the Dominican National Police, told CNN.
“The bullet went through his stomach,” Durán Mejia said. Ortiz is in stable condition and “out of danger” after undergoing surgery.
Ortiz’s father, Leo Ortiz, spoke to reporters outside the hospital after the surgery and said his son was safe.
“He is resting right now. He is stable,” he said in Spanish.
A second person, television host Jhoel Lopez, who was with Ortiz, was also shot, according to his wife, Liza Blanco.
“They were both on their backs. It was very fast. He doesn’t remember much because he was also in shock from the bullet wound,” Blanco told reporters in Spanish. “But thank God he is stable.”
Suspects in custody
Multiple people have been detained in connection with the shooting, Durán Mejia said. It’s unclear whether those detained include the motorcyclist.
One of the suspects is being treated at a local hospital, the Dominican Health Service (SNS) said in a statement. The suspect, the statement said, was hit and attacked by bystanders immediately after Ortiz was shot.
Ortiz, also known as Big Papi, was born in Santo Domingo and made his Major League Baseball debut in 1997, according to MLB’s website.
The first baseman and designated hitter played 20 seasons before retiring in 2016. While Ortiz’s major league career began with the Minnesota Twins, he was best known for his 14 seasons in Boston as the Red Sox’s designated hitter.
In 2004, he helped the Red Sox end the so-called “Curse of the Bambino” by winning the World Series — the team’s first championship since 1918. Ortiz was also on the Red Sox title team in 2007 and 2013. He was named World Series MVP in 2013 when Ortiz, then 37 years old, batted .688 with two home runs, six RBIs and eight walks, finishing with a .760 on-base percentage.
The 2013 championship came just months after the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 200 others. Ortiz emerged as a champion for the city in the bombings’ aftermath, and his emotional tribute to Boston the day after police captured bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev gained national attention.
“This jersey, that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says ‘Boston,’ ” Ortiz said, standing on the infield as the crowd cheered police officers who were on the field.
“This is our f***ing city. And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong,” he said.
In his 20 seasons in the majors, Ortiz hit 541 home runs and had a career batting average of .286.
Ortiz retired at the end of the 2016 season, and the Red Sox retired his uniform number in 2017. He will be eligible to be on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot at the end of 2021 (for the class of 2022).
Sports world responds to shooting
Shocked professional athletes sent prayers and well-wishes late Sunday as news of the shooting surfaced.
“It’s crazy to hear what happened to David Ortiz. It goes to show you that anyone can be in danger at anytime no matter your status. Get well soon Big Papi. I’m praying for you,” said New York Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes.
“Anxiously waiting for more news. In the meantime, only prayers for @davidortiz, Tiffany and their family,” said former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez on Twitter.
MLB tweeted its support as well.
“Our thoughts are with David Ortiz, who is reportedly hospitalized after being shot in his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic,” the league’s tweet read.