Dodgers Rumors: Shohei Ohtani Wasn’t Aware Of Ippei Mizuhara’s Gambling Until Clubhouse Meeting

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The Seoul Series brought about multiple off-the-field distractions for the Los Angeles Dodgers, first with a bomb threat on Opening Day, then an illegal gambling scandal involving Ippei Mizuhara and by extension Shohei Ohtani as well.

Mizuhara’s purported betting came to light when a federal investigation into Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer turned up wire transfers from a bank account under Ohtani’s name.

“In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities,” Berk Brettler LLP, the law firm representing Ohtani, said in a statement.

According to Tisha Thompson of ESPN, Ohtani was not aware of Mizuhara’s gambling activity and debts until the interpreter addressed the Dodgers clubhouse in Seoul:

On Thursday, a source close to Ohtani gave an explanation for the changing storylines: As Ohtani’s handlers tried to determine what had happened, they initially relied solely on Mizuhara, who continued to translate for Ohtani.

After Wednesday’s season-opening game in South Korea, Dodgers officials called a clubhouse meeting and told players a negative story was coming later in the day, a team official said, and Mizuhara apologized, saying he had a gambling addiction. It was then, the official said, that Ohtani understood for the first time what was happening and began asking questions.

In ESPN’s detailed reporting, an Ohtani spokesperson said he indeed had paid to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debts. That was corroborated by Mizuhara, but he then recanted and said Ohtani was not aware of his betting or debts. Ohtani’s representatives also pushed back on the notion that the two-way superstar had provided financial assistance.

The Dodgers fired Mizuhara on Wednesday, a decision that was not conveyed or apparent at the time he spoke to the clubhouse at Gocheok Sky Dome.

“The Dodgers are aware of media reports and are gathering information,” the club said in a statement. “The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated. The team has no further comment at this time.”

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, manager Dave Roberts and Ohtani have not publicly addressed the matter.

Will Ireton has taken over the role of Ohtani’s interpreter on an interim basis. Ireton previously translated for Kenta Maeda during his Dodgers career and has since been part of the baseball operations department.

Who is Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara?

Mizuhara was born in Japan but grew up in Southern California, where he graduated from Diamond Bar High School in 2003. He attended the University of California, Riverside, before first becoming connected with Ohtani while working as an interpreter for the Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Mizuhara had been Ohtani’s personal interpreter since his rookie season with the Los Angeles Angels. Over that time the two developed a close friendship that extended well beyond the baseball field.

That relationship is what makes Mizuhara’s alleged stealing from Ohtani all the more jarring.

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