‘I never bet on baseball,’ Ohtani says

This offseason, the Dodgers made Shohei Ohtani the highest-paid athlete of all time. A player of his caliber comes with extreme benefits, but managing someone of his stature was always going to be difficult for Los Angeles. The new gambling situation has only added to their labors.

Ohtani’s press conference on Monday served as a reminder to the organization of the magnitude of the player they are dealing with. Seventy-three media members piled into the Dodgers post-game interview room to listen to his statement despite not being allowed to ask the superstar questions.

Shohei Ohtani (right) with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts are all smiles during the player’s introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf, and I have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports,” said Ohtani through his new interpreter, Will Ireton.

Ohtani and his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who was fired, are under investigation by the MLB in the wake of the alleged theft that Mizuhara committed by exchanging $4.5 million of Ohtani’s money with an illegal bookmaker.

“I am very sad and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this,” said Ohtani.

Despite rampant speculation, Ohtani remains innocent and is allowed to play for the Dodgers during the investigation. Still, everything he does will be under extreme scrutiny as the process unfolds.

All eyes were already on the Dodgers after they acquired both Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto for $1 billion combined. Signing two of the biggest Japanese baseball stars made them the surefire favorite to win the World Series, putting a massive target on their back.

“You have brought in an entire country and essentially another continent,” said Roberts during Spring Training. “So, with the media, you have brought in two to three times what we have ever had. It is certainly much different than we have ever seen.”

In addition to all the new media and fans following the Dodgers, they now have a player with the most unique talent and regiment in sports.

“You have heard that he has his own thing going on, in which it takes a lot to get your body ready and to prepare as a starting pitcher and also as a hitter,” said Roberts. “You hear things, and until you see it on a day-to-day basis, it is hard to kind of wrap your head around. Seeing it in real speed is fascinating to see how methodical he is.”

Shohei Ohtani (left) with former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara walk the field at Dodger Stadium for the baseball star’s introductory press conference after he had signed a contract to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

How the Dodgers go about managing him over the next ten years remains to be seen, but it is puzzling that they have already stated he might see some time in the outfield this year.

Ohtani has only played eight MLB innings as a fielder and is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Immediately after he read his statement to the media, Ohtani was seen throwing on the field for the first time since joining Los Angeles.

“I am looking forward to focusing on the season; I am glad that we had this opportunity to talk, and I am sure there will be continuing investigations,” said Ohtani.

The statement Ohtani read must be taken as the truth for the time being. As details continue to emerge, more will be known about what took place, but for now, we are left to wonder.

Ohtani no longer has his former friend and running mate by his side, and this scandal has complicated things by adding another element no one could have anticipated. The Dodgers knew they were going to have their work cut out for them when they brought Ohtani on board, and now their job just became that much more complex.

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