Former Yankee and Cooperstown-bound pitching legend Mariano Rivera told the Daily News Tuesday that he intends to visit his longtime baseball rival, David Ortiz, when the retired Red Sox star is able to receive visitors. Big Papi was shot at point-blank range at Dial Bar and Lounge in his native Dominican Republic Sunday, a shocking attack that required Ortiz to undergo multiple surgeries both in the D.R. and in Boston at Mass General.
"I am going to see him," Rivera said. "I don't think he's been able to speak to anyone yet, but when he's able, I want to be there. Thank God his surgery was successful. That is most important."
Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, issued a statement through the Red Sox Tuesday that said her husband had "a successful second surgery" Monday night in Boston, and that the 43-year-old former slugger and three-time World Series champ is "stable, awake, and resting comfortably," in the intensive care unit, where he'll remain for several days.
There has been an outpouring of support for Ortiz from Red Sox Nation, current and former MLB players and the baseball world at large. Rivera played against Big Papi during what many consider to be two of the most dramatic postseason clashes between the ancient baseball rivals — the 2003 and 2004 ALCS.
Of course, the '03 series ended when current Yankee manager Aaron Boone, then playing for the Bombers, blasted a walk-off, game-winning home run in Game 7 at the old Stadium. A year later, the Red Sox got revenge, climbing out of a 0-3 hole to win the ALCS in seven games. Ortiz was a big reason for the epic comeback and remained a Yankee tormentor for years.
"A tough out," Rivera said Tuesday of Ortiz. "It was sad news to hear, but hopefully he continues to improve."
Rivera, 49, who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame next month, was at the Crown Shy restaurant in downtown Manhattan Tuesday when eBay announced its first-ever baseball card Hall of Fame collection, which includes Rivera.