Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani to speak for first time in wake of gambling scandal


LOS ANGELES – Shohei Ohtani is ready to break his silence.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star will address the media Monday for the first time since the dismissal of his interpreter and friend Ippei Mizuhara, who was fired upon finding himself in the middle of an intensifying gambling scandal. When approached by The Athletic at his locker ahead of Sunday’s Freeway Series exhibition game against the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani said, “Tomorrow,” a decision confirmed by interim interpreter Will Ireton and a team public relations official.

Ohtani’s decision to talk appeared to surprise even some team officials, though manager Dave Roberts said that Ohtani addressing the situation would be “good” to bring his perspective to a situation that has lacked real, clear-cut answers as to what took place.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Roberts said. “I’m happy he’s going to speak, speak to what he knows and give his thoughts on the whole situation. I think it’ll give us a little bit more clarity.”

Ohtani generally keeps the press at arm’s length and has kept to that pattern since Wednesday, when his representatives said the Dodgers star was the victim of “massive theft.” As of Sunday, Ohtani hadn’t addressed the situation with teammates. Roberts said there are no plans for Ohtani to do so — although before his dismissal Mizuhara addressed the club and divulged his gambling problem.

While the manager has spoken with his new star since the news broke, they haven’t discussed what happened.

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It is unclear to what extent Ohtani will answer questions, though he is expected to occupy the press interview room at Dodger Stadium when he does speak. Ohtani routinely disliked speaking in press rooms, though he did not speak often at his locker during his time with the Angels. He could also choose to speak in front of his locker or read a statement aloud. Whatever form it takes, Ohtani’s media session will be his first without Mizuhara, who has been at his side since making his big league debut in 2018.

Ireton had previously served as Kenta Maeda’s interpreter during his time with the Dodgers and has since served as the club’s manager of performance operations.

Ohtani has remained in the Dodgers’ lineup and on the active roster even as Major League Baseball announced it will open its investigation into the matter. It is still unclear if Ohtani would consent to an interview with league officials should they request one during their investigation.

The Dodgers, for their part, have been quick to push past the idea that the ongoing investigation will be a distraction. Ohtani’s locker placement upon the club’s return from their season-opening series in Seoul, South Korea, served as an unfortunate reminder of that. Ohtani was assigned the locker stall previously occupied by current free agent left-hander Julio Urías; Urías last pitched for them in September after being arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence (no felony charges were filed). The Dodgers also employed right-hander Trevor Bauer when the pitcher served the longest suspension handed out in the history of the policy, releasing him ahead of the 2023 season.

“I think we’re certainly battle-tested from that regard,” Roberts said. “And we’ve shown over the years that we continue to move forward. Not to be insensitive for various situations, but we all understand we have jobs to do. And so first and foremost, playing baseball and preparing has got to be a priority.”

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(Photo of Shohei Ohtani: Meg Oliphant / Getty Images)





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