For the three Dominican Republic players on the Rocky Mountain Vibes the shooting of David Ortiz on Sunday was devastating, but didn’t come as a surprise.
Ortiz was shot and wounded in his native country while at a bar Sunday evening. The former Red Sox star had to have emergency surgery and was flown to Boston on Monday. Ortiz is in stable condition and on Tuesday took his first steps since the incident, according to a statement from his wife, Tiffany.
In the Dominican Republic, Ortiz is more than a famous former baseball player. He’s an inspiration and icon for many young Dominican players, including Vibes second baseman Edwin Sano, catcher Luis Avalo and right-handed pitcher Christian Sierra.
“He’s a great player and a great person. I look up to him and I know a lot of other players do, too,” Sano said Wednesday at the Vibes’ media day. “I’m just praying for him. People can hate you for any reason. I wonder why that person did that because (Ortiz) represents our country so well.
“I feel safe because I know that isn’t going to happen here, but it could happen (in the Dominican Republic).”
Ortiz is arguably one of the most famous baseball players to come out of the Dominican Republic, along with Pedro Martinez, Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols and others. Due to the success of players like Ortiz, the country has become a hotbed for talented MLB prospects such as Sano, Avalo and Sierra.
For all three, the news that one of their idols had been shot in their country was not only heartbreaking but also disconcerting.
“I'm embarrassed that it happened,” Avalo said through a translator. “You can’t go out and enjoy a night with your family. You have to be careful. It’s just not right for the country to be that way.”
Vibes manager Nestor Corredor coached in the Dominican Republic for four years and has seen the impact Ortiz has on young players. He understands the impact a situation like this one can have on an entire country.
“In my personal opinion, it’s not good that that would happen in that country," Corredor said. "David Ortiz is obviously a famous role model. Everybody from the Dominican Republic wants to be David Ortiz. Hopefully he’s getting better and recovering. I think we’d all like to see the Big Papi more often.”
Ortiz's shooting has been one of the biggest stories surrounding the MLB this week, with players from all over the world sharing their thoughts on the legend. In the Dominican Republic, police have six suspects in custody as the country demands action be taken.
For now, all Sano, Avalo and Sierra can do is pray and wonder about the future of their country.
“I don't know what’s going to happen because I don't understand how someone could be allowed to do that," Sierra said through a translator. "If someone has a great, successful career and that happens to him in our home country, what’s that mean for us?”