Questions Loom Around Shohei Ohtani As Dodgers Head Back To Los Angeles

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Shohei Ohtani is arguably the best baseball player in the world. He may also be the worst judge of character in the world, as a major probe into the transfer of millions of his funds to an alleged illegal bookie under federal investigation has begun.

This week, the Dodgers split two games with the San Diego Padres in a visit to Seoul, South Korea. But given the scandal that has erupted around Ohtani – not to mention the poor debut of $325 million pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto in his first game – the chaos makes it seem as though the Dodgers were big losers on this trip.

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The story on what happened and who did what keeps changing. At first, Ohtani’s interpreter and right-hand man, Ippei Mizuhara, confessed to a gambling problem and claimed his friend Ohtani paid off his debts.

But that story has been tossed, and Ohtani’s lawyers now say their client is the victim of a massive theft that the Dodgers star knew nothing about.

“If there has been a ‘massive theft,’ you would expect Ohtani’s people to cooperate with federal investigators,” said Jeff Ifrah, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times. He is a former federal prosecutor and sports betting expert who now works as a defense attorney, including for professional athletes. “They will figure out whether or not the interpreter is lying, and whether or not Ohtani is a true victim.”

Neither Ohtani nor Mizuhara has been charged with a crime. No betting on baseball has been alleged.

But it’s only the first inning of what promises to be a long game.

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