Almost 7 weeks after near-fatal attack, David Ortiz returns home
Red Sox icon David Ortiz has been released from Massachusetts General Hospital, almost seven weeks after he suffered a life-threatening gunshot wound in his back that required three surgeries, the team said Saturday.
The Red Sox issued a brief statement, but declined to describe his condition.
“We understand that David has been released from MGH,” Red Sox management said in the statement. “There will be an update on his condition early next week.”
Ortiz, 43, was shot at close range at a nightclub in the Dominican Republic on June 9, and nearly died from traumatic injuries to his liver, small intestine, large intestine, and gallbladder, which was removed. He immediately underwent surgery in Santo Domingo, and then was flown to Boston the next day on a team-chartered airplane for a second operation and prolonged recovery that included yet a third surgery in mid-July.
The Ortiz family could not be reached for comment Saturday, and a spokeswoman for Mass. General declined to comment.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora, speaking to reporters before the home game against the Yankees Saturday, said he hasn’t spoken directly to Ortiz but has been getting updates from his doctors.
“We’ve been hearing good news the last few weeks,” Cora said. “He’s getting better, which is the most important thing.”
ESPN first reported early Saturday afternoon that Ortiz had been released from the hospital, citing a source close to the family.
“David has been home since Friday,” the source told an ESPN reporter, according to its report. “At home he will be assisted by full-time nurses and will be visited regularly by his personal doctor. He will continue to undergo all the treatment and rehabilitation necessary to recuperate from his recent injury and surgeries.”
It’s still unclear what kind of recuperation Ortiz faces, and whether he will suffer lasting effects from the shooting.
Without knowing Ortiz’s condition, Dr. Justin Maykel, chief of colorectal surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, said patients who undergo abdominal surgery typically face about six to eight weeks of recovery and rehabilitation following hospitalization.
Maykel, who spoke to the Globe Saturday, is not involved with Ortiz’s treatment.
However, Maykel said Ortiz, as a recently retired athlete, was probably in good enough physical shape that he should see a quick improvement after receiving physical therapy and follow-up care.
“I think he’ll be able to take advantage of that,” Maykel said. “Ultimately, he should return to full, normal health.”
Maykel trained at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with Dr. David R. King, the surgeon who operated on Ortiz at Mass. General.
While Ortiz’s family and friends have not discussed the specifics of his injuries, his wife, Tiffany, had acknowledged that the third surgery was due to complications resulting from his gunshot wound.
“He is recovering well and in good spirits,” Tiffany Ortiz said in a statement after the operation.
On Saturday, there were several cars were parked outside the Weston home where the Ortiz family lived for much of time he played for the Red Sox, but no sign of the former ballplayer or family members. The home has been for sale for several months, but now at a reduced price of about $6 million.
Authorities in the Dominican Republican had originally said Ortiz was the target of a contract killing and was followed to the club the night of the shooting, which occurred on a patio at the Dial Bar and Lounge.
Then, authorities said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and was meant to be an ambush of Ortiz’s friend Sixto David Fernández, who was seated at a table near him.
Fernández’s cousin, Victor Hugo Gomez Vasquez, allegedly paid others to kill Fernández for reporting him to police eight years ago, leading to his arrest in 2011, authorities said.
Authorities have arrested at least 14 suspects in the shooting of Ortiz, including Gomez Vasquez, who has denied any involvement.
In a separate case, Gomez Vasquez, 43, also faces federal drug trafficking charges linked to a major case in Texas, according to prosecutors.
News that Ortiz had been released from the hospital came ahead of an afternoon game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. John Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox, is also the owner and publisher of The Boston Globe.
Outside the park just before game time, Margaret Pelletier, 76, was looking to buy an Ortiz shirt. The Connecticut resident said she cried after learning Ortiz, one of her idols for years, had been shot, and has been praying for his recovery since.
“When he retired, I sent him a nice card and a three-page letter,” Pelletier said. “I told him how I admired him all these years and what an idol he is for all the young kids.
Jim Stemarie, 50, and his son, Patrick Bennett, drove four hours from Vermont for Saturday’s game. Stemarie was thrilled to know Ortiz was out of the hospital.
“I sent a lot of prayers his way, so I would have hated to see him die like that,” Stemarie said.
Patrick Van Kommer, a Sox fan visiting Boston from Germany with his girlfriend, was happy to hear Ortiz had been released from the hospital.
“It was devastating when we heard that he got shot,” said Van Kommer, 39, who was wearing an Ortiz jersey. “He’s a big part of the community.”
Danny St. Laurent, 58, and his family were chowing down on hot dogs outside Fenway when they learned Ortiz was out of the hospital. As they drove in from Connecticut Saturday, St. Laurent said he saw a billboard with an image of Ortiz smiling.
“That was a sign that everything was going to be OK,” he said.