Ohtani 'unaffected' by former interpreter's gambling scandal

Japanese baseball star Ohtani Shohei has started his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers under a cloud of scandal. Still, he celebrated his team's first home game on Thursday with a victory.

The Dodgers rolled to a 7-to-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Ohtani said he was "excited" and "relieved" to get a hit in his first at-bat. He added that lots of fans came to the stadium, which is "scary when you are an opponent" but reassuring as a team member. He said he was grateful for their support.

Ohtani has seen his former interpreter, Mizuhara Ippei, fired over accusations of illegal gambling and theft. Local media, however, said he showed no signs that the scandal was "distracting" him.

The LA Times reports that Ohtani answered questions about accusations that Mizuhara stole his money to settle gambling debts. It quotes Ohtani as saying he knows who is looking into the alleged theft but cannot give details because the case is "under investigation."

He also said he cannot comment about whether he knows how Mizuhara gained access to his bank account or how he failed to notice that 4.5 million dollars was missing.

However, Jeff Ifrah, a former federal prosecutor, tells NHK that Ohtani will need lots of "evidence and substantiation" to prove the money was sent without his "knowledge" or "authority." He adds that the question is whether Mizuhara will say he stole the money from Ohtani and whether he is going to try to pay it back.

Ifrah says Mizuhara may not be charged with a crime for his gambling because he is considered just a "customer." He adds that the investigations will instead be focused on the activities of the alleged bookmaker.