Dodgers sack Ohtani's interpreter amid theft allegations

The Los Angeles Dodgers say they have fired Mizuhara Ippei, the interpreter for Major League Baseball superstar Ohtani Shohei.

This comes as the Japanese two-way player's law firm has accused Mizuhara of "massive theft."

US sports network ESPN broke the story of Mizuhara's alleged involvement in illegal gambling.

It reportedly found several money transfers from Ohtani's bank account to an illegal bookmaker.

Speaking to ESPN, Mizuhara said he had asked Ohtani for the money to help pay gambling debts.

Sports bookmaking is illegal in California, where Ohtani and Mizuhara are both residents.

The bookmaker also reportedly did not require gamblers to make advance payments. The money Mizuhara owed is believed to total around 4.5 million dollars.

Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani had offered to help him, and said he did not know the scheme was illegal.

On Wednesday, a representative for Ohtani disavowed Mizuhara's account. Ohtani's law firm also issued a statement, alleging their client had been stolen from, and they were in touch with the authorities.

Before he was sacked from the Dodgers, Mizuhara recanted his statements, claiming full responsibility and denying Ohtani had any knowledge of his gambling.

The pair have been long-time associates and were often seen together, with Mizuhara even occasionally serving as Ohtani's driver.

The news was a shock to Ohtani's fans, coming just one day after the MLB season opened in Seoul.

One woman said, "I'm worried if it will have an impact on Ohtani, but I hope he plays well."

Ohtani gave no comment ahead of the second game of the season against the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Dodgers' Manager Dave Roberts was also tight-lipped when pressed by reporters, saying, "I can't comment on that."

The US sports website, The Athletic, quoted an MLB official as saying Ohtani is not currently facing any disciplinary action.