On MLB Network Monday, former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez called David Ortiz a “great role model to society [and] to baseball” in the wake of his shooting.
“I don’t have enough words to describe who David is, what David means to baseball,” Martinez said. “But I’m so disappointed to know that someone like David, who saves so many lives, can have someone after his life.”
Martinez, 47, played seven seasons for the Red Sox and was teammates with Ortiz in his last two seasons with the club, including on the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series championship team.
"I don't have enough words to describe who @davidortiz is, what David means to baseball…"
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 11, 2019
But Martinez and Ortiz’s relationship goes back further than their two seasons as teammates. Both grew up in the Dominican Republic and became two of the country’s most beloved athletes in MLB. In a 2017 piece for The Player’s Tribune, Martinez said he took Ortiz “under [his] wing” when the man who would become known as Big Papi first made his way into the league with the Minnesota Twins. Martinez even claims to have persuaded former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to sign Ortiz before the 2003 season.
“I’m sorry,” Martinez said as he wiped tears from his eyes. “But it hurts me. It hurts me.
“To see someone want to take [Ortiz’s] life away in such a coward way, it bothers me. It bothers me deeply. And I feel for David like a brother, like a family member, like a teammate. My relationship, I know, is beyond what everybody else gets, but I just can’t take it.”
Martinez has worked as an analyst for MLB Network since 2015 in addition to his role as a special assistant to the Red Sox front office, a title Ortiz also holds. Martinez is known for his affable, comedic attitude, but during his appearance Monday, No. 45 was clearly consumed by worry for Ortiz and his family.
“I’m here sitting with you guys and I’m trying to have fun,” Martinez said. “But my heart is with David, with his family, with everybody that cares about David. Because just one coward out there that wanted to do that to someone that didn’t deserve it. There’s no place or space to have that against anybody in life.”