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Sox players, front office react to Ortiz shooting

@IanMBrowne
June 11, 2019

BOSTON -- The Red Sox went from the shock of digesting the jarring news that David Ortiz was shot on Sunday night to putting all of their positive energy on Monday into their hopes of a full recovery for the beloved slugger who led the franchise to three World Series

BOSTON -- The Red Sox went from the shock of digesting the jarring news that David Ortiz was shot on Sunday night to putting all of their positive energy on Monday into their hopes of a full recovery for the beloved slugger who led the franchise to three World Series championships.

It was a surreal and somewhat somber day at Fenway, where the Red Sox simultaneously played a baseball game against the Texas Rangers -- an eventual 4-3 defeat in 11 innings -- while also sending positive thoughts out to their friend and former teammate, who is an icon in both Boston and the Dominican Republic.

Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Ortiz’s condition remained serious. However, Ortiz was stable enough that the Red Sox were able to send a team plane to transport him back to Boston. Ortiz arrived at Massachusetts General Hospital for continued care around 10:30 p.m. ET Monday night.

“The events of last night shook our Red Sox family to its core,” said Kennedy. “David Ortiz is one of the most celebrated and beloved members of the Red Sox family. On behalf of our entire organization, our thoughts and our prayers are with David. They are also with his father Leo, his wife Tiffany, his kids D’Angelo, Jessica and Alexandra as well as his extended family and friends throughout the world.”

Just prior to first pitch Monday night, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ortiz with an announcement from the public address announcer and a message on the scoreboard. Just to the right of an image of Ortiz’s retired number 34 were the words “We send our love to David Ortiz.”

For several seconds, the crowd had a quiet reflection in recognition of Boston's adored Big Papi. Then they applauded.

A couple of minutes later, a highlight montage ended with an image of Ortiz waving his arms to the crowd after his final game with the Sox. The crowd cheered again.

Everyone in the ballpark could feel the emotion of the moment.

“Yeah, it makes you think about it,” said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “It puts things in perspective. Just makes you want to continue to try to uplift him and his family and hope everything goes well.”

Pedro Martinez, a teammate of Ortiz's in Boston from 2003-04, spoke passionately about his close friend on MLB Tonight, saying Ortiz is "a great role model to society, to baseball, in general as a human being, as a father. I don't have enough words to describe what David means to baseball."

Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who missed playing with Ortiz by one year and fired seven strong innings on Monday, acknowledged that the revered slugger was on his mind.

“I felt it a little bit,” said Sale. “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.”

It was hard for anyone to make sense of such a senseless act, in which Ortiz was shot in the back and wounded at an amusement center in his hometown of Santo Domingo.

“He’s a dad,” former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said as he held back tears. “[My] heart goes out to Alex and D’Angelo and his wife and the rest of his family. It’s a very scary thing that something like that could happen that easily.”

In addition to the outpouring of positivity from within the Red Sox family, well wishes also came from those who faced Ortiz during his career.

“When I look at my playing career, and the rivalry that we have with Boston, David was one of the first names that comes to mind," said former Yankees captain and current Marlins CEO Derek Jeter. "Everybody knows what he was able to do on the field. But the type of person he is off the field. Getting to know him over the years. What he’s meant to the community, not only in Boston but in the Dominican. This is a guy that’s beloved throughout the sport and sports in general. You just wish him a speedy recovery. It was a complete and utter shock."

The Rangers tweeted out a thoughtful message before Monday night's series opener at Fenway Park.

“I think we were all shocked of that happening, especially to him,” said Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. “He’s such a huge figure not only here, [but] especially there in the Dominican Republic. We don’t know what was the reason, but in the meantime, really glad that he’s alive, really glad that he’s stable. Hopefully he recovers well.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora -- a teammate of Ortiz’s from 2005-08 and a long-time friend -- talked with his players before Monday’s game in a meeting that also included owner John Henry, Kennedy and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

“We just met with everybody and there were some questions about what's going on. They gave answers to whatever they could answer,” said Cora. “Everybody knew what was going on. As you know, we live in an era that it's very easy to get information. I wish sometimes that we lived back in the ‘80s because stuff like this, overnight, it was tough to see everything. But like I said, we’re going to stay positive and keep praying. We’re not going to question the plan from the man upstairs because that’s not how it works.”

In Cora’s daily session with the media, there were no baseball questions. Everything was about Ortiz.

“One thing about David -- he's strong, he has no fear, he never shows weaknesses,” said Cora. “Because of that reason, the Lord will be with him. For us that believe, just pray for him.”

Many current Red Sox players spent at least a season or two playing with Ortiz.

“That’s very unfortunate for him to have to go through that, his family to have to go through that,” said Red Sox lefty David Price. “Everybody in here and in this city understands the way that he treats people. It’s second to none. So he’s definitely in our thoughts and our prayers, along with his family, and we look forward to seeing him again.”

Ortiz underwent a six-hour operation performed by three doctors Sunday night into early Monday morning.

“Yeah, it’s definitely tough,” said Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes. “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.”

When the Red Sox had three straight innings where they could have walked off with the win on Monday, it was hard not to flash back to Ortiz, who had 23 game-ending hits (including the postseason) in his illustrious career.

“I don’t know if here they say it, but back home [in Puerto Rico] they talk about superheroes without capes,” said Cora. “He’s a superhero without a cape. That’s the way we see him. He’ll be OK.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.