Major League Baseball
Shohei Ohtani to make first comments since illegal gambling, theft allegations against interpreter
Major League Baseball

Shohei Ohtani to make first comments since illegal gambling, theft allegations against interpreter

Published Mar. 25, 2024 2:41 p.m. ET

Shohei Ohtani is set to make his first public comments Monday since his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired following allegations of illegal gambling and theft from the Los Angeles Dodgers star.

Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers last week when the team opened the season with two games against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea.

Mizuhara was let go from the team following reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN about his alleged ties to an illegal bookmaker and claims from Ohtani’s attorneys that the Japanese star had been the victim of a "massive theft."


Major League Baseball has opened an investigation of the matter. The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that Mizuhara and Mathew Bowyer, the alleged illegal bookmaker in Orange County, California, are under criminal investigation.

Mizuhara told ESPN he had gambling debts that totaled well over $1 million and initially said Ohtani had paid those off at Mizuhara’s request. He later changed his story, telling ESPN that Ohtani had no knowledge of the gambling debts and had not transferred any money to bookmakers. Ohtani's attorneys have said Ohtani was the victim of a "massive theft."

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The Associated Press has been unable reach Mizuhara for comment. It is not clear if he has an attorney. Mizuhara was with the team in South Korea up until his firing. It’s unknown if he left the country.

Will Ireton, the Dodgers' performance operations manager, has taken over translation duties for Ohtani. He previously did the same for then-Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda, who is Japanese.

On Sunday, Manager Dave Roberts endorsed Ohtani addressing the matter publicly. He said it was the two-way superstar's decision to do so.

"It’s the right thing to do," Roberts said. "I’m happy he’s going to speak and speak to what he knows and give his thoughts on the whole situation. I think it will give us all a little bit more clarity."

Ohtani is also expected to play in exhibition games Monday in Los Angeles and Tuesday in Anaheim, where he was a two-time AL MVP before leaving the Angels as a free agent to sign a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers in December.

Roberts said Ohtani has not addressed his teammates as a group.

"I think that he’s had one-off conversations with players," Roberts said.

The manager said he checked in with Ohtani to see how he's doing.

"He's kind of business as usual," Roberts said.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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