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Shohei Ohtani lost sleep after translator was accused of stealing millions of dollars from him

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani sits in the dugout during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean) Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani sits in the dugout during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
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NEW YORK -

Shohei Ohtani says he lost sleep after his translator was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the two-way baseball star.

Ippei Mizuhara was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after the season opener on March 21 when a federal gambling investigation became public. Mizuhara agreed to plead guilty to bank and tax fraud in a sports betting case in which prosecutors allege he stole nearly US$17 million from the two-time AL MVP to pay off debts.

"I think the thing that affected me the most is just being able to sleep well," Ohtani said through a translator on Monday before the Dodgers' series opener at the New York Mets was rained out. "Now that I've been able to do that, I also came to realize that how I feel off the field mentally shouldn't affect my abilities, and I have every confidence in my own ability that I could be able to still play without being affected by anything that happens off the field."

In the first season of a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers, Ohtani began Monday with a major league-leading .336 batting average, 13 homers, 35 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. His 131 total bases topped the big leagues and he was third in OPS at 1.024 behind the Yankees' Aaron Judge and Houston's Kyle Tucker.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed Saturday that Ohtani has been playing with a bruised left hamstring.

Ohtani was hurt May 16 -- his bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium -- when struck by a pickoff attempt from Cincinnati left-hander Brent Suter with a 2-2 count to Freddie Freeman. Ohtani grabbed behind his left leg while bending, fell to his left knee, got up, patted his left leg and winced. Two pitches later he stole second.

"It got worse the next day, and started to kind of feel it more and more as I ran more," Ohtani said through his new translator, Will Ireton. "It's getting better day by day. It's definitely -- today is a lot better than yesterday."

Ohtani, who turns 30 on July 5, showed signs of the hamstring injury when didn't run at full speed on a triple at Cincinnati on Saturday.

"Right off the bat, I knew it was going to be a pretty easy triple," he said. "But just looking back in hindsight, just knowing that it was (Elly) De La Cruz, it became a little bit closer than I thought."

"Obviously, the legs -- isn't that great, but I don't personally think it's affecting the swing," Ohtani added.

He left a May 11 game at San Diego in the ninth inning because of back tightness and didn't play the next day.

"I feel pretty good with the back. I've been working out and making sure that's in a good place," he said.

An unprecedented two-way player, Ohtani has a .279 average in seven big league seasons with 184 homers, 472 RBIs and 99 stolen bases while going 38-19 with a 3.01 ERA in 86 starts with 608 strikeouts in 481 2/3 innings.

He's not pitching this year after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow for the second time last Aug. 23 while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels. He had surgery on Sept. 19 and expects to return to the mound next season.

"A starting pitcher can tell you that there's a little bit of nervousness going into a game, a game we start," Ohtani said. "So in a sense I do miss that, that kind of atmosphere. But right now I'm really just focused on just progressing every day."

He hasn't concluded whether his offence has improved because he isn't pitching.

"It's hard to say at this point. I have to play through the season to see if I could really say that," Ohtani explained.

Ohtani said he threw at 80 m.p.h. from 60 feet last week. He threw at Citi Field in the rain.

"Just progressively increasing the distance, and usually anywhere from 60 to 70 pitches," he said. "I'm not quite sure how far I'm going to go out there."

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