MLB launches formal investigation into gambling scandal involving Shohei Ohtani interpreter Ippei Mizuhara

Major League Baseball announced plans to open a formal investigation into gambling allegations against Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for two-time league MVP Shohei Ohtani.

The Dodgers parted ways with Mizuhara this week after reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN raised accusations he stole and was associated with an illegal bookmaker.

“Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhari from the news media,” the league said in a statement Friday.

“Earlier today, our Department of Investigations (DOI) began their formal process investigating the matter.”

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Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara of the Los Angeles Dodgers during a press conference at Dodger Stadium Dec. 14, 2023, in Los Angeles.  (Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Mizuhara is a familiar face to baseball fans and has served as Ohtani’s interpreter since the Japanese pitcher and designated hitter arrived in the U.S. in 2017.

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When Ohtani left the Los Angeles Angels to sign a record 10-year contract with the Dodgers in December, the club also hired Mizuhara. He was in the Dodgers’ dugout during Wednesday’s season opener against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea.

The Dodgers released a statement after the allegations surfaced saying they were “aware of media reports” and were “gathering information.”

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“The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated,” the statement said. “The team has no further comment at this time.”

On Tuesday, Mizuhara told ESPN his bets were on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL and college football. MLB rules prohibit players and team employees from wagering — even legally — on baseball and also ban betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers.

“I never bet on baseball,” Mizuhara told ESPN. “That’s 100%. I knew that rule. … We have a meeting about that in spring training.”

Shohei Ohtani, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to the media with the help of interpreter Ippei Mizuhara during DodgerFest at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Feb. 3, 2024.  (Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Ohtani’s attorneys said Mizuhara placed wagers with Orange County, California, resident Mathew Bowyer, who is under federal investigation. Bowyer’s attorney, Diane Bass, said her client “never met, spoke with, or texted or had any contact in any way” with Ohtani, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ohtani is expected to remain on the Dodgers’ active roster during the probe.

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Fox News’ Ryan Morik and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Chantz Martin is a sports writer for Fox News Digital.

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