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Ex-MLB All-Star casts doubt over Shohei Ohtani’s gambling innocence: ‘The circumstances don’t add up’

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Shohei Ohtani was adamant that he never bet on baseball, or sports in general, nor did he ever willingly pay a bookie, but not everyone is buying that story.

Ohtani claims that his now-former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, stole money from his bank accounts in order to gamble, but that came after Mizuhara said that Ohtani had openly helped him pay off gambling debts.

Mizuhara has since admitted he lied in his original interview to ESPN, and Ohtani continues to say that Mizuahara was “stealing money and telling lies.”

But former MLB catcher A.J. Pierzynski says the story stinks of suspiciousness.

“First of all, I want to give the benefit of the doubt to Shohei, because he’s an incredible talent. But . . . I just don’t know how you can have multiple large deposits taken out of your account,” Pierzynsky told Outkick’s Dan Dakich. “I know Shohei probably wasn’t watching it every day, but he’s got people that watch that stuff. You don’t think there was an accountant that would’ve noticed, ‘Hey, by the way, you’ve had nine $500,000 deposits go out? Nine of them?’ One, maybe you’re like, ‘OK, we missed something.’ But nine of them for $4.5 million? That’s where it gets a little weird to me. . . . “

Ohtani is not necessarily in a rare category, the two-time All-Star says: “I know plenty of guys that have gotten money taken from them, because they give access to things they shouldn’t give access to.” 

But that usually comes from someone who actually works with money, “like a financial guy or an agent that has access to their finances and changes some numbers,” Pierzynski says.

“But for me, with Shohei, an interpreter who was his best friend. And then, the other thing that is weird is the day this all comes out, he’s in the dugout like ‘Hey buddy, we’re pals. Let’s go out to dinner.’ And then all of a sudden, right after the game, they tell you ‘No, this guy stole $4.5 million from you without you knowing?’ The circumstances don’t add up.”

Ohtani and interpreter at conference

Ohtani said he had not learned of Mizuhara’s gambling until the team’s series in Seoul, yet Mizuhara “has been telling everybody around that he has been communicating with me on this account to my representatives, to the team, and that has not been true,” Ohtani said.

“When we went back to the hotel one to one, that was when I found out he had a massive debt,” Ohtani said in his statement earlier this week. “It was revealed to me during that meeting that Ippei admitted he was sending money using my account to the bookmaker. At that moment, obviously it was an absurd thing that was happening, and I contacted my representatives at that point.

“When I was finally able to talk to my representatives, that’s when my representatives found out Ippei has been lying the whole time, and that’s when I started contacting the Dodgers and my lawyers. The Dodgers and the lawyers at that moment found out also as well they had been lied to. My lawyers recommended that, since this is theft and fraud, we have the proper authorities handle this matter.”

Ohtani and interpreter at conference

Major League Baseball is investigating the matter. Mizuhara had been Ohtani’s personal translator since breaking into MLB in 2018 with the Los Angeles Angels. They were inseparable, as Mizuhara would even catch Ohtani’s bullpen sessions and play catch with him in the outfield before games.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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