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Baseball star David Ortiz flying to Boston after Dominican Republic shooting

The 43-year-old had been in stable condition at a Santo Domingo hospital after doctors removed his gallbladder and part of his intestine.

David Ortiz (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
David Ortiz (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Baseball star David Ortiz has left hospital in the Dominican Republic to be flown to Boston after he was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native country, authorities said.

The 43-year-old retired batter had been in stable condition in intensive care at a Santo Domingo hospital after doctors removed his gallbladder and part of his intestine, according to his spokesman, Leo Lopez.

He said Ortiz’s liver was also damaged in the shooting on Sunday night.

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David Ortiz celebrates a home run against the New York Yankees (Elise Amendola/AP)

The former Boston Red Sox star, affectionately known as Big Papi, is one of the most beloved figures in sports history in the Dominican Republic and Boston. 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 earlier on Monday, causing a traffic jam. In the US, fans prayed for his recovery and wished him well, with New England Patriots NFL star Julian Edelman assuring him on Instagram: “Papi, all of New England has your back.”

The Red Sox offered “all available resources” and sent an aircraft to bring him back to Boston.

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 target.

The rider of the motorcycle that was carrying the gunman was captured and beaten by a crowd of people at the bar, authorities said.

Eliezer Salvador, who was at the scene, said the gunman said nothing, just fired once. Mr 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.

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Eliezer Salvador speaks to the press outside the hospital (Roberto Guzman/AP)

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

Mr Salvador held up Ortiz’s bloody belongings for reporters, along with some of his jewellery. He also apologised for hitting several cars while rushing to 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,” he said. “Big Papi will be around for a long time.”

He added that he is pleased with the medical attention Ortiz has received but he will be transferred to Boston so he can be with his wife and the Red Sox medical team.

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.

The bar is in 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 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 their ground, Fenway Park, in his honour. He maintains a home on the outskirts of Boston.

Ortiz galvanised 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!”

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Sam Kennedy, right, addresses the media (Charles Krupa/AP)

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

PA

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