Mystery deepens around Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter as MLB investigation begins

Mystery deepens around Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter as MLB investigation begins

Ippei Mizuhara is under more scrutiny

Mizuhara (left) and Ohtani (right) at a news conference, days before...

Mizuhara (left) and Ohtani (right) at a news conference, days before the former’s dismissal from the Dodgers.Lapresse

Shohei Ohtani has become entangled in a growing betting scandal that could be the among the most significant in Major League Baseball‘s long, long history. So far, there have been few answers and many questions centered on what the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ two-way superstar knew — and when he knew — about allegations that former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara wired $4.5 million from Ohtani‘s bank account to a bookmaker in southern California, where gambling on sports remains illegal.

MLB has opened its official investigation, although the focus is not on Ohtani himself. Unspooling the web that Mizuhara has allegedly weaved is the league’s priority — but key background details about the interpreter will need to be clarified before commissioner Rob Manfred decides on a course of action.

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Here was the interaction between Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani and his translator MizuharaTikTok

“Inaccuracies” surround Mizuhara

What is known for certain about Mizuhara is that he was born in Japan and moved to the United States in the 1990s. But after that, what many once took for fact might now be part of an elaborately-fabricated identity instead.

For example, after attending Diamond Bar High School in California, it was reported — even in the Los Angels Angels‘ media guide — that Mizuhara attended the University of California, Riverside, where he graduated in 2007. However, the university has since confirmed to NBC Los Angeles and The Athletic that Mizuhara never attended the school.

Mizuhara’s popularity spiked when he accompanied Ohtani to the Angels in 2018, and his Instagram account’s following grew to more than 400,000 users. Prior to joining Ohtani in Anaheim, Mizuhara interpreted for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Nippon Professional Baseball — Japan’s top baseball league — and reportedly worked in the same capacity for the Boston Red Sox in 2010, as well as for the New York Yankees in 2012, on behalf of Japanese pitcher Hideki Okajima.

The Red Sox have since denied that Mizuhara, 39, ever worked for the franchise. In a statement provided to The Athletic, the Red Sox said it was “incorrect” that Mizhuara served as an interpreter in Boston — or in any other position at Fenway Park. This casts more doubt on Mizuhara’s credibility and his path to two-time MVP Ohtani, who has regarded the now-former interpreter as his best friend.

With the Internal Revenue Service‘s investigation circling in addition to the MLB probe, it might take some time before the questions about Mizuhara’s past shed any light on his future. Ohtani, the face of the sport, will have to find a way to minimize the distractions and the bad press when the Dodgers‘ regular season resumes Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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