Players to attend services for Lima

ORLANDO -- Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and New York Mets ace Johan Santana are leading a group of baseball players who will attend Jose Lima's funeral services in New York on Thursday.

Ortiz, a former teammate of Lima with the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican winter league, said he got permission from the Red Sox to take the day off, but hopes to be back in Boston on time to be available for Thursday night's game against the Kansas City Royals.

"I still can't believe that Lima is dead," Ortiz told ESPNdeportes.com. "I will say goodbye for the last time to one of the persons that has been closest to my heart since I began playing baseball."

Fellow Dominicans Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Fernando Tatis, Placido Polanco, Antonio Bastardo and Puerto Rican Alex Cora have also expressed interest in attending Lima's wake at the Rivera de Corona funeral home in Queens before the Mets play the Phillies at Citi Field.

"I met him when both of us were with the Houston Astros. Even though Lima was in the Major Leagues, he would visit the minor leagues on his days off and sing to us, a gesture that those who were there have never forgotten," said Santana, born in Venezuela, about the late right-hander.

After the New York funeral services, Lima's body will be brought to the Dominican Republic for a public wake at the Estadio Cibao, home turf of the Aguilas Cibaenas.

"We estimate that we will have the same amount of people and vehicles for Lima's funeral as we've had in our last championship celebrations. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of persons," said Rafael Perez, public relations agent of the Aguilas.

Authorities say paramedics found Lima, 37, in full cardiac arrest at his home in Pasadena, Calif., early Sunday, and he was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.