ST. PETERSBURG -- In the hours leading up to Wednesday night's game, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was still trying to see if he could make things work logistically to attend funeral services later this week in New York for former Major League pitcher Jose Lima, who died of an apparent heart attack Sunday.
"He has my blessing, if he decides [to go]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "There's actually something in New York and something in the Dominican. I think he would like to try to get to New York, if possible. And I told him he has our blessing if that's what he determines he wants to do."
Ortiz considered Lima a close friend and had been in recent contact with the former righty, who was 37.
"Oh, Lima was like a brother to me," said Ortiz. "We go way back. Man, it's just devastating to know that somebody who was doing so good would just go away like that. That crushed me. I was really crushed."
When Ortiz was in the throes of an early-season slump this season, Lima reached out to him.
"I don't think there's one person that can say anything bad about Lima. Lima was a guy full of great spirit," Ortiz said. "He brings good things, wherever he was going. We talked a while back when things wasn't going too good for me. He was trying to tell me something, but all he did was just make me laugh. Everything coming out of his mouth was funny. But that was him, man. Just a person full of happiness. Just seeing him just go away like that, it hurt."
It wasn't that long ago that Ortiz and Lima spoke for what proved to be the final time.
"I talked to him, I would say, a few weeks ago," Ortiz said. "He reached out, because he doesn't have my phone number so he reached out through Torii Hunter because he was living in L.A. Yeah, man, I remember he said he was about to send a letter to me because he couldn't get a hold of me. He was the best. He was the best. Rest in peace, man."