PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Less than an hour after completing his third minor league rehab game with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz sat down to have lunch in the home clubhouse at McCoy Stadium.
He crossed his hands, put his head down and prayed.
Ortiz prayed for all those affected by the tragic events Monday on Boylston Street in Boston, where two explosions crippled the city in the midst of Marathon Monday.
“I always thank God for everything,” Ortiz said. “I pray for a lot of things, but at this moment everybody’s got to keep their prayers for those families that struggle, and it’s going to take them a long time to recover for that, and for all those people who are injured to get back to normal, and to our country to stay together.
“Worldwide, yesterday, all eyes were on Boston and that’s what makes this country the best country in the world, how people stay together when times of struggle show up.”
Ortiz hasn’t played in a big league game since Aug. 24, 2012 due to right Achilles tendinopathy. He is on track to possibly return to the lineup Friday, but on Monday his rehab became secondary.
“Horrible, man. Horrible,” he said. “It’s the kind of situation, it hurts. It hurts. This is a beautiful nation right here, especially Patriots Day and we have that beautiful marathon every year. I’ve been in Boston for the past 11, 12 years and there’s not one human being in Boston on a day like yesterday that doesn’t get related to the marathon. Everybody wants to do something that connects you to something that can help with the marathon. Because we all know what everybody’s trying to do -- raise money for charities to help out people. Seeing what went down yesterday in Boston just hurts.
“Last night I had problems sleeping just thinking about it. This morning I woke up and was watching the news and I heard about this 8-year-old kid at the finish line dying. That devastates me.”
Ortiz is talking about Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy from Dorchester, Mass., who died in the explosion while watching the race with his parents and siblings. His mother and sister were also badly injured.
Ortiz’s 8-year-old son, D'Angelo, is a fixture at Fenway Park during the season. He’s a well-respected boy in the clubhouse and is always at his father’s side. Since it’s school vacation, DeAngelo is in Cape Cod with a family friend. Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany, and their daughter, Alex, are both away on a UNICEF mission.
“Last night, when I was watching the news, I definitely called all of them,” Ortiz said. “I heard my son’s voice on the phone, and man, just thinking about how that went down, listening about this 8-year-old kid. My son is eight right now, it was just devastating. I got very emotional.”
Since he’s been home by himself and focused on his rehab, Ortiz had plenty of time to think about his family.
“It’s something that I put myself in the same place and it’s horrible, horrible. This is a beautiful nation and our president needs to get to the bottom of this and make sure this country goes back to what it’s always been, a safe place to be and where everybody wants to be and a happy place just like all of us know.”
Even though his son is 8, Ortiz explained the situation to him.
“Yeah, he knows and he was concerned,” Ortiz said. “They know and they get concerned about it, especially when they hear somebody their age gets hurt.”
Ortiz, who became a U.S. citizen in 2008 and lives year round in Boston, received a number of calls and texts from family and friends in his native Dominican Republic, asking him about the events.
“My phone didn’t stop yesterday,” he said.
Ortiz was in downtown Boston on Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. before he drove to McCoy Stadium to prepare for another minor-league rehab game. He was sitting in the PawSox’s clubhouse when the bombs exploded on Boylston Street.
“Once the news starts kicking in, and you start seeing how everything was going down, everybody was in shock,” Ortiz said.
“It was pretty bad. It’s going to take us some time to recover from that. But the one thing that I want to tell everyone is to just stay together. This is a tough time that everybody needs to stay together. Yesterday, it was, a big example of what this country is all about. That thing went off and you see nothing but everybody helping out each other. That’s why God bless America.”