MLB

Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in stable condition after being shot in back

Doctors removed David Ortiz's gallbladder and part of his intestine after the beloved former Boston Red Sox slugger, known as Big Papi, was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native Dominican Republic, a spokesman said Monday.

'Big Papi' had gallbladder, part of intestine removed after being ambushed in Dominican Republic

Boston Red Sox baseball great David Ortiz is pictured speaking to fans in June 2017 at Fenway Park in Boston as the team retired his No. 34 worn when he led the franchise to three World Series titles. (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

Doctors removed David Ortiz's gallbladder and part of his intestine after the beloved former Boston Red Sox slugger, known as Big Papi, was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native Dominican Republic, a spokesman said Monday.

Leo Lopez said that the retired athlete's liver was also damaged and that he was in stable condition in intensive care in Santo Domingo. He said Ortiz will be flown to Boston once his condition improves.

Ortiz, 43, is one of the most popular figures in sports history in the Dominican Republic and Boston, a fearsome power hitter with a ready smile. He led the Red Sox to three World Series championships, was a 10-time all-star and hit 541 home runs.

Dozens of fans crowded the hospital in Santo Domingo where he was being treated, causing a traffic jam. In the U.S., fans prayed for his recovery and wished him well, with New England Patriots star Julian Edelman assuring him on Instagram: "Papi, all of New England has your back."

The Red Sox offered "all available resources" to help him recover and sent an aircraft to bring him back to Boston.

"He's on the Mount Rushmore of Boston sports," said Eddie Romero, the team's assistant general manager.

Driver of motorcycle captured, beaten

Ortiz was at the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo on Sunday night when a gunman approached from behind and shot him at close range, said National Police Director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte.

The gunman has not been identified or arrested.

The driver of the motorcycle who was transporting the suspected gunman was captured and beaten by a crowd of people at the bar, and police were waiting for him to undergo treatment for his injuries before questioning him, authorities said. Investigators said they were trying to determine whether Ortiz was the intended target.

Eliezer Salvador, who was at the scene, said the gunman said nothing, just fired once. Salvador then drove a wounded Ortiz to the hospital, telling reporters they had a brief conversation in the car as he urged the baseball great to stay calm and breathe.

"Do you have any problems with anyone?" Salvador recalled asking him, to which Ortiz replied: "No, my brother, I've never wronged anyone."

Salvador held up Ortiz's bloody belongings for the throng of reporters, along with some of his jewelry, including rings. He also apologized for hitting several cars while rushing to the hospital: "That wrongdoing was justified."

2 others wounded

Ortiz's father, Leo, told reporters he had no idea why someone would have shot at his son.

"He is resting," the elder Ortiz said. "Big Papi will be around for a long time."

The Red Sox said in a statement that Ortiz was wounded in the "lower back/abdominal region" and that the team offered his family "all available resources to aid in his recovery."

Two other people were wounded, including Jhoel Lopez, a Dominican TV host who was with Ortiz. Police believe Lopez was wounded by the same bullet, said National Police Director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte. Lopez was shot in the leg, and his injuries were not life-threatening, said his wife, Liza Blanco, who is also a TV host.

Police did not identify the third person or detail that person's injuries.

No. 34 retired in 2017

The bar is on Venezuela Avenue, a bustling nightlife district packed with dance clubs and expensive bars that Ortiz is known to frequent.

Ortiz, who retired after the 2016 season and lives at least part of the year in the Dominican Republic, is often seen getting his cars washed and hanging out with friends, including other baseball players, artists and entertainers.

The Red Sox retired his number, 34, in 2017, and Boston renamed a bridge and a stretch of road outside Fenway Park in his honour. He maintains a home in Weston, on the outskirts of Boston.

Ortiz galvanized the city after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead, bellowing through a megaphone at Fenway Park: "This is our [expletive] city!"

"In 2013, when we needed David Ortiz the most, he was there for us," Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Monday. "Our focus is on his health and on getting him back here for treatment."

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