Thursday, March 21, 2024

Ohtani's Interpreter Mizuhara Fired by Dodgers For Sports Gambling

In news broken by the Los Angeles Times yesterday afternoon, former Dodgers interpreter Ippei Mizuhara addressed the team Wednesday in private and was summarily fired by the team. Reports state that there was $4.5M in sports gambling losses; bets were not made on baseball; and Mizuhara was the culprit. Where it gets murky is Shohei Ohtani's involvement: did he send wire transfers to cover some of these losses, or was there (as alleged by Ohtani's attorney's) "massive theft" on Mizuhara's behalf? Mizuhara's story seems to be changing, let alone may not be corroborated by Ohtani's camp.

Mizuhara and Ohtani's relationship goes back to Ohtani's days with the Nippon Ham Fighters, extending through Ohtani's six-year run with the Angels, and then on to the Dodgers this year. There's been a lot of online speculation if the two are professional colleagues or actually friends, with reports of Mizuhara doing grocery runs for Ohtani and their wives shopping together in Seoul. But at the very least, their professional relationship is definitely over.

Even MLB is caught in the dark on this, as apparently they had not been contacted by federal authorities investigating this betting operation, which was run out of Orange County (and therefore violates California state gambling laws).

The Athletic reported that the Dodgers and Ohtani both kept quiet on this post-Thursday's game. Dave Roberts was decidedly deflecting comments from the press post-game Thursday. It's a nightmare start to Ohtani's Dodgers career, says the WSJ (Ohtani is batting .300 with 2 RBI and an OPS of .573 this year, through two games; he just missed a couple of HR in Thursday's game).

Will Ireton, who was Kenta Maeda's interpreter for three years, has picked up the interpreter role for Ohtani.