Great report: Reporters Announced Shohei Ohtani ‘grateful’ for investigation into….

ust hours after Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, surrendered to authorities Friday on charges that he stole more than $16 million from the Dodgers’ two-way star, Ohtani himself said he was ready to return to just focusing on baseball.  “I’m very grateful for the Department of Justice’s investigation,” Ohtani said in Japanese. “For me personally, this marks a break from this, and I’d like to focus on baseball.”  Ohtani, who was accompanied by his interpreter, Will Ireton, declined to answer further questions from a Times reporter about the situation.  The 29-year-old slugger was in the Dodgers’ lineup for Friday night’s game, serving as the designated hitter from his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order.  Ohtani’s comments Friday were the first he has made publicly regarding the allegations against Mizuhara since a news conference late last month, when Ohtani first accused his longtime friend and interpreter of secretly stealing money from one of his personal bank accounts to pay off gambling losses Mizuhara had accumulated with an alleged illegal bookmaker in Orange County.  At that news conference, which took place on March 25, Ohtani said he had no knowledge of the wire transfers Mizuhara made from his account, that he had never gambled on sports or used an illegal bookmaker, and that he was not aware of the scandal until a Dodgers’ clubhouse meeting after their season-opening game in South Korea last month.  More to Read  “Up until that team meeting,” Ohtani said at the news conference, “I didn’t know Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt.”  On Thursday, those claims were all supported by a criminal complaint unveiled at a news conference by U.S. Atty. for the Central District of California E. Martin Estrada, who announced the charges against Mizuhara.  According to the complaint, Ohtani did not grant Mizuhara access to the account from which Mizuhara allegedly transferred more than $16 million to a bookmaker, nor did Ohtani realize the transfers had been made until Mizuhara told him following the season-opening game in South Korea.  After a review of Ohtani’s cellphone, investigators found “no evidence” that Ohtani had even accessed the bank account in question, nor “any evidence to suggest that [Ohtani] was aware of, or involved in, Mizuhara’s illegal gambling activity or payment of those debts.” Shohei Ohtani, right, and his then-interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, attend a Rams game at SoFi Stadium.  Shohei Ohtani, right, and his then-interpreter Ippei Mizuhara attend a game between the Rams and the New Orleans Saints at SoFi Stadium in December.  (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)  The complaint also cited a text Mizuhara sent to the bookmaker on March 20, after The Times first reported on the story, in which Mizuhara admitted that “technically, I did steal from [Ohtani].”  “It’s all over for me,” Mizuhara said in that message.  Ohtani and the Dodgers are hopeful the situation is behind them too.  During his pregame address with reporters Friday, manager Dave Roberts again insisted the scandal hasn’t been a distraction to the Dodgers (who entered the night 10-5 this season) and repeatedly praised the way Ohtani (who is batting .333 with three home runs and eight RBIs) has handled the “burden” amid a strong start to the season.  “Just happy that there’s a little bit more clarity, and Shohei can move forward,” said Roberts, who did not read the complaint against Mizuhara.  “I think ultimately, a decision was made. He was exonerated, which we all believe. And like I said, I’m just happy that it’s behind us. I hope it’s all behind, and we can just move forward and play baseball.”  Roberts said neither he nor Ohtani convened a team meeting to discuss Thursday’s developments — “I think guys are pretty in tune with what’s going on,” Roberts said — and that, even before charges against Mizuhara were announced, the team had “already moved past” the scandal.  “I just feel for Shohei, that he’s had to have this burden,” Roberts said. “But like I said, he’s handled it really well and hasn’t let it affect his performance.”  During Roberts’ media scrum, the situation even created a moment of levity.  While describing Ohtani’s composure over the last several weeks, Roberts had to stop himself midsentence from using a gambling metaphor.  ‘I think he has a very good — I don’t want to say poker face,” Roberts said, eliciting some laughter from reporters in the room, “but he’s very stoic.”

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