Ippei Mizuhara Addressed Dodgers Clubhouse To Clear Shohei Ohtani

What was supposed to be a watershed moment for Major League Baseball in South Korea has now become embroiled in controversy as the Los Angeles Dodgers fired Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, due to allegedly stealing millions from the two-way star in order to fund illegal gambling activities.

Mizuhara is said to have become involved with Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, who is under federal investigation.

Mizuhara was with the Dodgers for the Seoul Series and sat alongside Ohtani, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman during the team’s first media availability session. Mizuhara was in the Dodgers dugout for their Opening Day game as well.

However, as he was aware reports of the illegal betting were on the verge of surfacing, Mizuhara spoke inside the Dodgers clubhouse after the team’s comeback win against the San Diego Padres to take sole responsibility and clear Ohtani’s name, per ESPN’s Tisha Thompson

A Dodgers spokesperson said Mizuhara addressed the clubhouse after the game, telling them a story was coming out and that it was all his fault, saying he has a gambling addiction.

MLB’s policy prohibits “any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee” from betting on baseball or making illegal bets involving other sports. If personnel is found to have participated in such acts, punishment is possible and comes in the form of “such penalty as the Commissioner deems appropriate in light of the facts and circumstances of the conduct.”

Mizuhara’s stance and claims changed in multiple interviews with ESPN. Mizuhara first stated he asked Ohtani to help pay off gambling debts and an agreement was reached for him to do so. But Mizuhara then told ESPN that Ohtani never transferred money and wasn’t aware of his illegal betting activity.

The Dodgers play the finale of the Seoul Series on Thursday before returning stateside for the an exhibition Freeway Series followed by the domestic portion of their 2024 regular season schedule.

Will Ireton has taken over as an interpreter for Ohtani. Ireton was Kenta Maeda’s interpreter prior to becoming part of the Dodgers baseball operations department.

Can Shohei Ohtani opt out with Ippei fired?

Ohtani’s Dodgers contract does have a clause that guarantees him an interpreter, but it does not include the ability to opt out if the role isn’t handled by Mizuhara.

The “key-man” clause in Ohtani’s contract allows him to opt out if Dodgers owner Mark Walter or president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman are no longer with the team.

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