MLB commissioner says Ohtani and interpreter gambling probe to wrap up in ‘short’ time

Major League Baseball’s top official has said that he expects the gambling probe into Shohei Ohtani and his former longtime interpreter to wrap up in a “relatively short” period of time, in the latest update on the probe.

During a Friday appearance on “The Carton Show,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred praised the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar for his move to stem questions over his involvement in the gambling scandal in the days after the news broke.

“I thought Ohtani’s public appearance was really credible (and) really transparent, but I think it’s incumbent upon us just to make sure that we can verify the story that’s there to give our fans absolute assurance about the integrity of the game,” Manfred said on the New York-based daily sports show, noting that it was difficult to pinpoint the exact stage of the probe.

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani singles during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Saturday.

But Manfred said the investigation is making progress and that it will be a “relatively short” one.

“The fact that there is a parallel federal investigation, I think in this particular case, may actually help us,” he said.

Manfred also said that while baseball players are allowed to bet on sports other than baseball, when it comes to betting through an illegal bookmaker, that is “a very different kind of level of penalty.”

The commissioner did not offer any further details regarding Ohtani or his onetime close friend and interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, or any related interviews by MLB for its investigation, though the former interpreter is not required to attend as he’s no longer employed by the major leagues.

Ohtani, together with Mizuhara, were caught up in a gambling scandal that emerged late last month, with the club firing Mizuhara following increased media attention on wire transfers from the player’s account to a suspected illegal bookmaker in California.

Several days after the story first made headlines around the world, the slugger issued an official statement via a news conference where he said the situation was “difficult to put into words” but hoped to focus on the upcoming season, adding that he would cooperate with authorities in their probe.

In his first public comments on the scandal, Ohtani said in a prepared statement that he had never bet on anything or asked anyone to do so on his behalf.

He also said that Mizuhara had been stealing money from his account and spreading lies, including the interpreter’s claim that the 29-year-old two-time MVP knowingly transferred money to a bookmaker to settle the gambling debts.

Ohtani did not take questions during the news conference.

Mizuhara became well-known among baseball fans as Ohtani’s constant companion.

He was often seen alongside the usually reserved player, becoming the star’s personal interpreter in late 2017, when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

He followed the Japanese player to the Dodgers, with whom Ohtani signed a massive $700 million, 10-year contract in December.

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