NEW YORK – Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz remained in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital on Wednesday as he continues to recover from surgery to repair gunshot wounds, the result of what authorities say was an orchestrated plot to kill him.
“Yesterday and this morning, David was able to sit up as well as take some steps. His condition is guarded and he will remain in the ICU for the coming days, but he is making good progress towards recovery,” his wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said in a statement issued by the Boston Red Sox.
The retired slugger was in a club in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Sunday night when he was shot by a man at close range in what authorities say was a coordinated attack. Surgeons there operated for six hours to repair damage to his intestines and liver, also removing his gallbladder.
Once his condition stabilized, Ortiz was flown to Boston on Monday and taken by ambulance to Mass General, where he underwent a second surgery.
“My family and I again want to thank everyone for their endless love and well wishes, and still ask for privacy while David continues to heal,” the statement by his wife concluded.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, authorities said that a group was offered 400,000 Dominican pesos (around $8,000) to kill Ortiz. Five people involved in the attack, including the alleged gunman, have been arrested, and the handgun used has been recovered. Authorities added that neither the leader of the group nor the motive have been determined.
The alleged shooter, Ramon Martinez Perez, initially escaped the scene but has since been arrested. The man who allegedly drove the gunman to the club on a motorcycle, Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, was detained and beaten by people in the area after the incident. He has been charged with being an accomplice to attempted murder.
According to documents obtained by The Boston Globe, witnesses saw the alleged shooter and driver meeting together a day before the shooting. On the night of the shooting, other witnesses saw a group of men with a motorcycle and two cars — one a gray Hyundai — leave the bike for the alleged driver and shooter, who got on it and headed to the club.
Per The Globe, the documents say the alleged shooter escaped the scene on foot but was seen on video surveillance getting into the same Hyundai. He was tracked down and arrested Tuesday night.
Ortiz, known to fans and teammates as “Big Papi,” played the last 14 years (2003-16) of his 20-year big league career in Boston. He was named an All-Star 10 times and helped the Red Sox win World Series championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013. He is a career .286 hitter with 541 career home runs.
Former Red Sox teammate Eduardo Nunez — a good friend who shares an agent with Ortiz — told ESPN on Wednesday that the incident is embarrassing for Dominican players.
“Just thinking about the fact that this happened to him in the Dominican Republic, it is unimaginable,” Nunez said, per ESPN. “For us, as Dominican players, it’s a very bad image. It is an international shame.
“We feel very embarrassed about what happened to him because he is a legend from our homeland, and this happened to him in our homeland.”