Disgraced Shohei Ohtani interpreter has a surprising connection to Red Sox

Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce Shohei Ohtani
Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce Shohei Ohtani / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

UPDATE: The Associated Press made a correction to their original story that linked Mizuhara to the Red Sox back from 2007-2011. The Red Sox released a statement that Mizuhara was never connected to the organization, which prompted the alteration, so contents of this story are outdated. An updated version will follow.

On the evening of March 20, news broke that brought some drama to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and Shohei Ohtani.

Ohtani's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired by the Dodgers for alleged "massive theft" of Ohtani's money, in the words of Berk Brettler, the law firm representing Ohtani. Mizuhara allegedly had ties to an illegal bookmaker and used the star's money to repay his gambling debts, with ESPN reporting the theft to be around $4.5 million. Sports gambling is illegal in California, Ohtani's state of residence.

Ohtani and Mizuhara have been attached at the hip in the eyes of baseball fans for years. Ohtani spoke to reporters through Mizuhara and the translator even caught for Ohtani during the home run derby.

But Red Sox fans may recognize Mizuhara for other reasons. He worked for Boston from 2007-2011.

Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, used to work for the Red Sox

The Red Sox gave Mizuhara his start interpreting for Japanese MLB players. He was hired to translate for pitcher Hideki Okajima as his first job in American professional baseball.

But the interpreter also has connections to current Red Sox players. After leaving the Red Sox organization. Mizuhara returned to Japan to interpret for English-speaking players in Nippon Professional Baseball. Boston pitcher Chris Martin was among those players.

Since Ohtani's arrival stateside in 2017, Mizuhara has been his personal interpreter. The two were colleagues as well as close friends — they frequently drove to the ballpark together and Mizuhara even helped Ohtani grocery shop while he was injured in the past, according to the Los Angeles Times.

There is rampant speculation about Ohtani's involvement in Mizuhara's alleged wrongdoing, but Ohtani is not currently under investigation by MLB in connection with anything. Mizuhara stated that Ohtani willingly helped him pay off his debts, but that the star had no involvement in any illegal betting activity himself, per ESPN's report on the situation.

The beginning of Ohtani's tenure as a Dodger has been a bit rocky. He is unable to pitch this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery over the winter and now his personal translator and friend has been dismissed by the organization.

There's little doubt Ohtani will make things right on the field, but it'll be strange not to see Mizuhara by his side, and that could upend things in the short term.

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