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LOS ANGELES — The line to get into the Dodgers‘ interview room Monday afternoon looped past the walkway to the field, beyond the wall of Ford C. Frick winners, through the hallway of Silver Slugger Awards and retired jerseys, and wrapped around the wall of Cy Young Awards at Dodger Stadium. The sight was more reminiscent of a playoff game than an exhibition between the Dodgers and Angels. 

This was the scene as more than 70 media members prepared to hear from Shohei Ohtani for the first time since the scandal that resulted in the firing of his longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, five days ago. Ohtani’s representatives accused Mizuhara of engaging in a “massive theft” of Ohtani’s funds to allegedly pay off Mizuhara’s gambling debts to an illegal bookmaker in an amount in excess of $4.5 million.

Both the IRS and MLB have started investigations into the matter, but Ohtani is expected to continue playing in the interim. He is in the lineup this week for the Freeway Series.

On Monday, Ohtani spoke for nearly 12 minutes and elaborated on his representative’s claims in a statement with the help of new interpreter Will Ireton. He did not take any questions. Here are the main takeaways and questions answered.

1. Ohtani adamant he never bet on sports 

Ohtani vehemently denied that he had ever bet on sports, that he ever asked anyone to do so on his behalf and that he ever went through a bookmaker. He expressed shock and sadness that someone he trusted “has done this,” in reference to Mizuhara. 

A contingent of Dodgers — a group that included manager Dave Roberts, teammates Kiké Hernández and Joe Kelly, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Brandon Gomes, team president Stan Kasten and executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen, were in attendance for the statement. 

“Up until a couple days ago, I didn’t know this was happening,” Ohtani said through his translator. “Just to kind of go over the result, in conclusion, Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.”

2. When did Ohtani realize Mizuhara had gambling debts?  

Initially, Mizuhara told ESPN in an interview that he had asked Ohtani to help pay off his gambling debts. He later recanted that version of events, claiming Ohtani had no knowledge of the debts or wire-transfer payments. It is that latter version that Ohtani elaborated on Monday. 

Ohtani said Mizuhara never revealed to him that the media (it seems likely he was referencing ESPN) had reached out to his representatives when the team was in Korea inquiring about his potential involvement in sports betting. He also said Mizuhara had been telling Ohtani’s representatives that Ohtani was paying off Mizuhara’s debts, despite that not being the case. “All of this has been a complete lie,” Ohtani said. 

Ohtani said he never actually knew about Mizuhara’s gambling issues until after the first game of the Seoul Series during a team meeting in the clubhouse. Mizuhara was speaking English in that meeting with the team, but Ohtani said he was still able to gather what was going on and only realized then that something was “amiss.” 

 “Up until that team meeting, I didn’t know that Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt,” Ohtani said. “Obviously, I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker.”

3. What happened after Ohtani found out? 

Prior to the team meeting, Ohtani said Mizuhara wanted to speak to him one-on-one at the team hotel afterward. It was in that conversation that Ohtani said he found out Mizuhara had “massive debt.”

“And it was revealed to me during that meeting that Ippei admitted that he was sending money using my account to the bookmaker,” Ohtani said. 

Ohtani said he contacted his representatives immediately after finding out. 

“In conclusion, I do want to make it clear that I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker,” Ohtani said. “To summarize how I’m feeling right now, I’m just beyond shocked. It’s really hard to verbalize how I’m feeling at this point.”

Shohei Ohtani issues statement amid gambling scandal

4. Among the primary questions that remain: 

Even if Mizuhara was able to control the narrative between Ohtani and his representatives, how did Ohtani not realize so much money — according to ESPN, the first of multiple $500,000 transfers was sent in September — was being funneled from his account until last week?

At the least, it’s troubling if not curious that Mizuhara, even as his interpreter and close friend, had that kind of access and ability without Ohtani’s knowledge.

On Monday, we got Ohtani’s version of events for the first time. But it’s a story that’s not going away any time soon.

“The season’s going to start, so I’m going to obviously let my lawyers handle matters from here on out,” Ohtani said before departing, “and I am completely assisting in all investigations that are taking place right now.”

Rowan Kavner is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the L.A. Dodgers, LA Clippers and Dallas Cowboys. An LSU grad, Rowan was born in California, grew up in Texas, then moved back to the West Coast in 2014. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.



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