SANTO DOMINGO (CBSMiami/AP) — Doctors removed David Ortiz’s gallbladder and part of his intestine after the former Boston Red Sox slugger affectionately known as Big Papi was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native Dominican Republic, a spokesman said Monday.
Leo López said that the athlete’s liver was also damaged and that he was in stable condition in intensive care.
Ortiz, 43, is one of the most beloved 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.
In Miami, former New York Yankees shortstop and current Miami Marlins part-owner Derek Jeter spoke about Ortiz prior to Monday’s game at Marlins Park.
“Unbelievable,” said Jeter. “I found out this morning when I woke up and your first reaction is complete shock. Thoughts and prayers go out to him.”
The two were on opposite sides of one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports and got to know each other over the years.
“You look at my playing career, you look at the rivalry we had with Boston, David was one of the first names to come to mind,” Jeter said. “Everyone knows what he was able to do on the field but the type of person he was off the field, just getting to know him over the years and what he’s meant to the community, not only in Boston but in the Dominican [Republic]. This is a guy who is beloved throughout the sport and sports in general and you just wish him a speedy recovery.”
WATCH: Derek Jeter Speaks About David Ortiz
Neighbors of Ortiz’s home in Pinecrest told CBS4 News they are hopeful he will recover quickly.
The former Red Sox slugger recently moved in to his newly built home last month.
Monday, his cousin told CBS4 News off camera he’s thankful to God that Ortiz will be okay and that he’s out of harm’s way.
At the time Ortiz’s cousin talked to us, construction crews were wrapping up some of the final touches at the Pinecrest home.
At the same time, Pincecrest police officers remained parked outside the athlete’s home to protect the family’s privacy.
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 in the torso, authorities said.
The gunman was not immediately identified or arrested, and the motive for the shooting was under investigation, with authorities trying to determine whether Ortiz was the intended target.
The driver of the motorcycle that was carrying the 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.
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.”
Ortiz’s father, Leo, said 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.”
Two other people were wounded, including Jhoel López, a Dominican TV host who was with Ortiz. Police believe López was wounded by the same bullet, said National Police Director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte. López 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.
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 honor. 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.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)