John Tomase

Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani's interpreter, never worked for Red Sox

Ohtani's camp has accused Mizuhara of "massive theft."

NBC Universal, Inc.

Ippei Mizuhara, the translator at the center of Shohei Ohtani's gambling scandal, is frequently referred to as an ex-Red Sox employee who got his start translating for Hideki Okajima in 2007.

The only problem is, no one can remember him, from front office, to PR, to reporters who covered the team. It turns out there's a reason for that – it's not true.

While Mizuhara did translate for Okajima late in the lefty reliever's career, it didn't happen until the former All-Star joined the Yankees in December of 2011 on a minor-league deal. Their time together in New York was brief, because Okajima failed his physical and was released in February before camp even opened.

That would explain why there are no references to Mizuhara translating for Okajima during his Red Sox career. Okajima's first translator with the Red Sox was Jeff Yamaguchi, who arrived a month into the 2007 season. Others who served in that role included assistant trainer Masai Takahashi; Daisuke Matsuzaka's translator, Masa Hoshino; and Japanese media liaison Mikio Yoshimura.

Mizuhara isn't on the list, and doesn't turn up in a search of the Boston Globe archive from 2007-11 – because he never worked here. The Red Sox checked their HR files and have no record of Mizuhara working for them at any time.

He instead returned to Japan in 2013 to serve as a translator for English-speaking players with the Nippon Ham Fighters, where one of the Americans he aided was current Red Sox reliever Chris Martin. During that time, he met a young Ohtani and the two grew close, leading Mizuhara to join him with the Angels in 2018.

The two had remained inseparable until this week, when Ohtani's camp accused Mizuhara of a "massive theft" to cover $4.5 million in gambling losses and the Dodgers subsequently fired him.

Mizuhara first claimed in an interview with ESPN that Ohtani willingly paid off his debts and then changed his story to say he knew nothing about them. In any event, federal officials and the IRS are investigating an accused California bookmaker involved in the scheme, and MLB is likely to open an investigation, too.

When they do, Mizuhara's supposed time with the Red Sox won't be an issue, because it never happened.

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