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Shohei Ohtani keeps on playing baseball, homers in first AB after Ippei Mizuhara arrest

It has undoubtedly been a difficult few weeks for Shohei Ohtani as investigators probe his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. But you wouldn't know it from how he's playing.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star homered in his first at-bat against the San Diego Padres on Friday, hours after Mizuhara surrendered to federal authorities over a charge of bank fraud. Mizuhara, who is accused of stealing $16 million from Ohtani, was quickly released on $25,000 bond.

Ohtani thanked the U.S. Department of Justice for its investigation and expressed his hope to move on from the scandal before Friday's game. He did so in the first inning, crushing an outside fastball from Michael King for an opposite-field home run:

Statcast measured the homer as 403 feet with an exit velocity of 107.3 mph.

The homer ties Ohtani with New York Yankees great Hideki Matsui for the most MLB home runs by a Japanese-born player, at 175. It was Ohtani's fourth homer with the Dodgers.

Shohei Ohtani headshot
Shohei Ohtani
DH - LAD - #17
2024 - false season
194
AB
.356
AVG
13
HR
13
SB
1.080
OPS

It's a testament to Ohtani that he has not looked fazed in the first few weeks of the season. He entered Friday hitting .333/.377/.635 in 15 games for the Dodgers and tied for the MLB lead in total bases with 40.

Ohtani was already going to face considerable pressure after signing a record-shattering, 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers last offseason, cementing himself as the sport's global superstar. He got to play one game for the Dodgers, against the Padres in South Korea, before he encountered the biggest scandal of his career.

Where the Shohei Ohtani-Ippei Mizuhara scandal currently stands

Hours after L.A.'s season opener on March 20, Ohtani's camp accused Mizuhara of stealing $4.5 million from the player to pay off his illegal gambling debts. Subsequent reports created confusion when it emerged that both Mizuhara and an Ohtani spokesman had claimed the two-time MVP agreed to pay off the debts for Mizuhara, which is a federal crime.

It has since emerged that Mizuhara used his considerable control over Ohtani's life — as an interpreter, de facto manager, driver and friend — to conceal his alleged embezzlement from both the star and the rest of the people tasked with managing his affairs. The government's criminal complaint lays out the scheme in meticulous detail, including how Mizuhara allegedly changed the contact information for Ohtani's bank account and pretended to be him in phone calls with bank employees.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 8: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after scoring from a base hit by Will Smith #16 against the Minnesota Twins during the sixth inning at Target Field on April 8, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Matt Krohn/Getty Images)
Ippei Mizuhara is no longer Shohei Ohtani's problem. (Photo by Matt Krohn/Getty Images)

Authorities found Mizuhara to have accrued more than $40 million in gambling losses across 19,000 wagers between December 2021 and January 2024.

Ohtani returned to the United States under a cloud of scrutiny, with many baselessly speculating that it could have actually been him who had made the bets. He broke his silence shortly before the Dodgers' home opener in late March, firmly denying any gambling or knowledge of the matter and outright accusing Mizuhara of stealing from his bank account.

The criminal complaint vindicated Ohtani weeks later, with investigators reviewing 9,700 pages of text messages between Ohtani and Mizuhara and finding no indication that the player was aware of the gambling or the money being taken from his account. U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Ohtani was only a victim.

Mizuhara's attorney released a statement after his release on $25,000 bond saying his client "is hopeful that he can reach an agreement with the government to resolve this case as quickly as possible so that he can take responsibility." If true, a guilty plea is likely to come for Mizuhara, who is facing up to 30 years in prison on the bank fraud charge. A plea deal would likely cut that number down considerably.

But that's no longer Ohtani's problem. Both he and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game that they hope to now move on, and an immediate homer was a pretty good way to do it.