Dave Roberts: Ippei Mizuhara Occasionally Made It ‘Difficult’ For Dodgers To Communicate With Shohei Ohtani

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

The most anticipated season in Los Angeles Dodgers franchise history has been sidetracked in the early going thanks to Shohei Ohtani being implicated by former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara in an illegal gambling scandal.

A federal investigation into Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer turned up evidence of a bank account under Ohtani’s name making wire transfers. They were first explained as Ohtani paying off gambling debt for Mizuhara, who was a close friend.

Ohtani has since claimed he was not aware of Mizuhara’s sports betting until the ex-interpreter addressed the Dodgers clubhouse on Opening Day, and that he is the victim of theft.

The scandal is all the more jarring because of the close friendship Ohtani and Mizuhara shared. Rarely were they apart, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has now remarked such an arrangement sometimes made it challenging for the team to communicate with Ohtani, per Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:

“It was difficult,” Roberts said bluntly when asked if his coaching staff had to relay baseball-related dialogue to Ohtani through Mizuhara. “It was difficult. Yeah.”

Mizuhara being so close to Ohtani is believed to have been a factor in the initial explanation for a bank account under Ohtani’s name paying off gambling debt.

Ohtani and his representatives have since alleged that was due to Mizuhara being at the center of translating conversations between parties. The implication being Mizuhara was misleading in those talks.

While reading a statement in Japanese for his first public comments on the matter, Ohtani said he has never bet on baseball or any other sports, and that Mizuhara accessed his bank account without permission.

Where is Ippei Mizuhara?

The Dodgers fired Mizuhara during the Seoul Series and he has not been with the club since speaking with Ohtani at the team hotel following their win on Opening Day.

When asked about Mizuhara’s whereabouts as the Dodgers finished their trip in South Korea, Roberts said he did not have that information. Roberts more recently declined to reveal if the Dodgers fired Mizuhara in person or any details related to that decision.

Mizuhara is currently under investigation by the MLB and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Will Ireton is currently serving as Ohtani’s new interpreter. Ireton last held such a role for Kenta Maeda from 2016-2019. Ireton otherwise is the Dodgers’ manager of performance operations.

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