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Shohei Ohtani betting scandal: Dave Roberts, Dodgers players react to allegations against interpreter

The start of the 2024 MLB season has been far from normal for Shohei Ohtani. 

The Dodgers’ two-way star has been adjusting to his first year with his new club while also recovering from an elbow injury.

The biggest story of the MLB offseason, Ohtani inked a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers. But he found himself back in the headlines ahead of Opening Day due to a scandal swirling around his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers after being accused of placing sports bets with an illegal bookmaker — and of using Ohtani’s money to pay off massive gambling debts.

Ohtani, 29, denied any involvement at all in the scandal. The Japanese sensation said he was “beyond shocked” to find out the truth about his close friend. In response, the Dodgers’ coaching staff and other players are showing support for their new teammate. 

Dave Roberts, Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy are among those at the Los Angeles club who have spoken out about the incident. Here is what they had to say.

MORE: Who is Shohei Ohtani’s new interpreter? What to know about Will Ireton

Dodgers react to Shohei Ohtani betting scandal

Dave Roberts 

The Dodgers’ manager said Tuesday that Mizuhara’s removal from Ohtani’s side has lifted a “buffer” between the star and the coaching staff. Mizuhara made it “difficult” at times to communicate with Ohtani, he said.

“The last couple of days, I think Shohei has been even more engaging with his teammates,” Roberts said. “I think there is only upside with that.”

Roberts also said that it was “huge” for Ohtani to speak at his press conference Monday and give his side of the story. 

“For him to be able to collect his thoughts and speak honestly and openly and be very vulnerable was really huge,” Roberts said of Ohtani.” I heard everything I needed to hear, and I know the players feel the same way. … I got a lot of questions answered as far as what he knew, what he didn’t know, and I’m looking forward to just moving forward and letting the authorities take care of this.”

Freddie Freeman 

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman said that he noticed a difference in Ohtani’s demeanor after he spoke publicly on the controversy. 

“That’s his personal life, that’s a lot,” Freeman said. “I know, obviously, everyone wants to know about it. But what he said yesterday, hopefully that helps … You could just kind of see, when he came in after that, he was relieved he was able to talk about it.”

Max Muncy

Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy said that he believes Ohtani’s story “100%” and that Ohtani has his support. 

“We’re all behind the guy,” Muncy said. “For me, where I come from, you’re innocent until proven guilty. So the guy has told us face to face what he believes is the truth. That’s what I’m going off of, and I believe him 100%. I have his back on that.”

MORE: Timeline of allegations against Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter 

The Los Angeles infielder also said that while the team felt bad for Ohtani throughout the ordeal, he is hoping that the dual-threat player is able to see the kind of support he has in the Dodgers clubhouse.

“It’s a hard thing to move on from, especially for him, and you definitely feel for the guy, but he’s starting to see how we act as a group in this clubhouse and to know that we all have each other’s backs and we’re going to move forward through this,” Muncy said.

“You obviously don’t hope for things like this to happen, and it’s yet to be seen how we come out of this. But I think it’s good for him to see exactly what kind of group we have here, and hopefully that will help him through this.”

Kiké Hernandez

Dodgers utility player Kiké Hernandez praised Ohtani’s ability to handle the pressure of the entire situation, calling betrayal “hard” and saying that he recognizes the human element in the difficult situation.

“He’s handling this way better than I would,” Hernandez said. “Betrayal is hard. And when you show up to work and you don’t show any signs of … We’re human and [stuff] affects us in many different ways. And he’s doing a great job of not letting it [distract] him from what he needs to do on the field and his work.”

Joe Kelly

Los Angeles reliever Joe Kelly, who watched Ohtani’s press conference Monday, echoed the same statement of his peers. 

“It’s kind of sad to see, it’s a tough spot, but he’s been pretty strong,” Kelly said. “He’s handled it like a pro, better than I probably would. It’s cool to see him deal with it and still play and be able to focus on what he gets paid for.”

Miguel Rojas

Dodgers infielder Miguel Rojas also commended the way Ohtani handled the entire situation, calling him a “professional.” He also said that it has shown the clubhouse what kind of teammate Ohtani is. 

“The guy has been amazing in the clubhouse — he’s being professional, being quiet about it and taking care of his stuff,” Rojas said. “I can’t talk about what he’s feeling, but I can talk about being a teammate of his, and to see him go through that, it’s a lot. I feel for the guy. All you can do is be here for him and support him.”

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