MLB Notebook: Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter fired by Los Angeles Dodgers, Jazz Chisholm rips former teammates with Marlins, and more

Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
26 days ago

Shohei Ohtani interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, fired by Dodgers

Shohei Ohtani’s long-time interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, has been fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after being accused of an alleged “massive theft” against Ohtani. Ohtani’s lawyers suggest Mizuhara stole $4.5 million from Shohei to repay gambling debts Ippei had endowed. The money would be sent to an illegal bookmaker in Southern California, who would make the bets for Mizuhara.
However, prior to the announcement of Mizuhara’s firing, Ippei did an interview with ESPN, outlining his gambling situation. The interview was set to be released on Wednesday morning but a spokesperson for Ohtani axed the story before publication. 
After the Dodgers’ season-opening victory over the Padres in Seoul, Mizuhara met with the team and admitted to his gambling history. Ohtani’s lawyers released a statement on the situation shortly later, claiming Shohei was a victim of a crime. 
In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities,” he said.
ESPN reports that Ohtani had no idea about the severity and the true nature of the payments he made to Mizuhara until he addressed the Dodgers clubhouse. After Ippei’s talk with the team, Ohtani confronted Mizuhara about the situation.
The Dodgers would go on to lose the second game of the Seoul Series 15-11, after the game, Ohtani’s locker was guarded by Dodgers PR staff as he refused to take any questions from the media. Ohtani was then escorted out of the room by the PR team without speaking to the media. However, that could be chalked up to the fact that Shohei already does not speak the best of English, and his interpreter of six years had just been fired. 
The spotlight has now been lit on Ohtani, who is being questioned about the true motives of the payments to Mizuhara. Speculation about whether Ippei was the fall guy for Shohei quickly spread across social media as the obvious Pete Rose comparisons were continually made. Former teammates of Ohtani say they were surprised by the news and quickly shot down any of those Twitter rumours directed at Shohei. 
Angels beat writer, Jeff Fletcher, said that many Angels players said Ohtani did not watch or keep up with other sports and say it’s unlikely Mizuhara was betting on Shohei’s behalf. Mizuhara would reportedly bet on international soccer, NBA, NFL, and College Football games, never baseball. 
I never bet on baseball. That’s 100 percent. I knew that rule,” he said.
Mizuhara is now under investigation by the IRS alongside the Southern California bookmaker, Matthew Bowyer. California is one of 12 states that still bans sports betting, but the MLB has different rules. Players are allowed to participate in team fantasy sports leagues, March Madness brackets, and use sites like FanDuel and DraftKings but cannot make bets in states that still outlaw sports betting. 
Major League Baseball has announced that they have officially launched a formal investigation into the claims and the extent to which Ippei Mizuhara was involved.
Mizuhara breached rule 21 of the MLB rulebook which forbids any player, staff member, umpire, or league employee from placing bets with an illegal bookmaker. If caught, they will be penalized as the commissioner deems appropriate.
The biggest question for baseball and the MLB right now is what happens with Shohei Ohtani. Most signs point to Shohei not being involved in the situation and likely was just looking out for the person he has been closest with since moving to America. But, does being a good friend break any league rules? Plus, what happens if it comes out that Mizuhara was betting on baseball? Which he could have resorted to considering the debt he had collected. There is still a lot to find out about this situation, but this is far from the start of the Dodgers career that Shohei Ohtani desired. 

Miami Marlins’ Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2) breaks his bat during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, May 12, 2023, in Miami. Chisholm grounded out on the at-bat. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

Jazz Chisholm roasts former Marlins teammates

Miami Marlins star Jazz Chisholm appeared on an episode of The Pivot this week, and he held nothing back. Chisholm recounted the difficulty he endured with certain veterans in the Marlins locker room as he came through the organization and the toxic environment in Miami.
Jazz said the first three seasons he had in Miami were “the worst three years probably of [his] life.” Hazing, egos, and career nepotism apparently flooded the Marlins clubhouse and it really turned off Chisholm from Miami. 
“From 2020 to 2022, outside of baseball, was great. But playing baseball, which that was the thing that really I love doing more than anything else, was the worst,” he said.
According to Chisholm, Marlins veterans would allegedly pump up Jazz and his potential to his face but would turn around and smack talk the player to the manager.
My team captain would come and tell me, ‘bro you’re the best on the team bro, keep on going bro, you’re going to be great, you’re going to lead us one day,’ but then the next two seconds he’s in the coaches the manager’s office telling the manager something,” he said.
It eventually got to a point where Chisholm would not even practice with the team, coming into the team facilities an hour and a half before the rest of the team and leaving before anybody else would even be there. 
They only saw me when I came out to come and play and I’d sign out autographs after every game,” he said.
Jazz also pointed the finger at a veteran who would not only bring Jazz down but other young stars as well. 
You can’t be a team leader when you’ve got guys that’s been in the clubhouse that’s been in there nine or 10 years even though they suck. They’ve been there for nine or 10 years and the team calls them the team captain. But they’re not a good captain, they’re not a good person, you’re not even a good athlete at this point. You’re just here and you’re bringing down the young guys that are supposed to be good,” he said.
Jazz said when the veterans would go after the youth, it would be Chisholm who would step up for the rookies; A move that only made Jazz even less popular with the older players. 
I was that guy that got in trouble so much because when I saw other rookies getting [brought] down by the vets, I was the one fighting the vets. That was the problem, I was already a team leader without being called a team leader,” he said.
Many believe the veteran perpetrator is current Dodgers middle infielder, Miguel Rojas. Rojas played for the Marlins for eight years before returning to the club he debuted in the MLB with, the Dodgers. Chisholm said when new manager Skip Schumaker stepped into the clubhouse, the attitude changed. 
He literally came in there and said ‘we’re not doing this, that’s not what this is, we’re going to get to the playoffs, we’re going to win, and this is how we going to do it. If you don’t want to do like this, we’re not doing it.’ And he got rid of everybody who didn’t want to do it like that,” he said.
Subsequently, Rojas left the Marlins in 2023, the first year of Skip Schumaker’s reign in Miami. But, not everyone was on Jazz’s side.
Former Marlins president David Samson stood up for the former members of his team while ripping into the current Marlins star.
In the hundreds if not thousands of players that I’ve had in my career, Miguel Rojas is one of the best people that I’ve come across, so for him to say that Miguel Rojas is a bad person is incredibly disingenuous,” he said.
But it didn’t end there. Chisholm, who appeared in more all-star games than Rojas, (1-0 for Jazz) and was the cover athlete of MLB The Show 23 in a Marlins uniform, had his resumé examined by Samson, and the feedback was far from glowing.
What have you done, Jazz? Nothing. You’re not a team leader. You didn’t walk in there as a team leader,” he said.
If that wasn’t enough, Samson asserted if Chisholm had played for the Fish in the 2000s, the veterans would make sure he would never play again. 
You’re lucky that Conine and Lowell and some of the other players weren’t there when you got there, because they would have kicked your ass, and that would have been the end of you,” he said.
The Spring has not quite sprung the many thought it would in Miami to start the season, and if this heat begins to rise, it could make for a very tense season in Miami this summer. 

Quick Notes:

  • J.D. Martinez signs a one-year deal with the New York Mets. Another Boras client has found a new home as Martinez will sign a one-year, $12 million contract with New York. Martinez was initially seeking a deal north of $50 million but settled for a nearly 25 percent pay cut. 
  • The Texas Rangers sign free agent righty Michael Lorenzen. The Rangers have added another arm as Lorenzen will join the reigning champs on a one-year, $4.5 million deal. 
  • Jackson Holliday optioned to Triple-A. Baseball’s top prospect had a great spring but will start the season with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides. 
  • Wyatt Langford will make the Rangers Opening Day roster. Unlike Holliday, the former 4th overall pick will make the Texas Rangers lineup after nearly receiving a call-up during the 2023 Postseason. Langford hit six home runs through spring bringing in an impressive 19 RBIs.


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