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

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:

After the game, the Dodgers hold a meeting in the clubhouse, where team owner Mark Walter tells the players a negative story is coming, according to a team official later interviewed by ESPN. Mizuhara apologizes, according to the official, and tells the team he has a gambling addiction. A Dodgers executive, Andrew Friedman, stands up and says Ohtani had helped to cover Mizuhara’s losses, the team official and others present said.

On the way back to the hotel, Ohtani starts asking questions about what had been said in the clubhouse, the Ohtani spokesman told ESPN, and his representatives say that’s when Ohtani told them he didn’t recognize Mizuhara’s version of the events. According to the Dodgers official and Ohtani’s spokesman, Ohtani’s representatives had continued to rely on Mizuhara to communicate with Ohtani while they were dealing with the situation, and Mizuhara did not tell Ohtani what was happening.

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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